Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento police see spate of Toyota Prius battery thefts

The Toyota logo is shown on a Prius in Wilsonville, Ore.
The Toyota logo is shown on a Prius in Wilsonville, Ore. AP

Sacramento Prius owners beware: Someone wants to take your car battery.

Three Toyota Prius owners parked downtown had the large battery packs stolen from their vehicles in the last 10 days, according to the Sacramento Police Department.

The batteries, which power the hybrid cars, can fetch about $1,000 via websites like Craigslist. The 100-pound batteries can take 20 minutes to an hour to dismantle, police said.

Prius owners are advised to install tamper-resistant bolts to hold down the battery pack. Backing into a parking spot is also another way to lower the risk of theft because the batteries are in the rear of the vehicle, police said.

“The batteries appear to have an extreme value,” said Officer Justin Brown, a department spokesman. “We definitely want it to stop.”

According to Green Car Reports, an automotive news site for hybrid, electric and fuel-efficient vehicles, customers buying Prius batteries at dealerships may pay more than $4,400, including the costs of the battery, cables, labor and taxes.

As a result, authorities say, thefts are increasing and a black market is emerging for the batteries.

A round of hybrid battery thefts also occurred last year in East Sacramento. No suspects or leads have been established in the latest thefts, Brown said.

Recently, KGO television in San Francisco reported that thefts of hybrid car batteries are booming in the Bay Area, particularly targeting owners of Priuses.

A recent theft victim, John Nashed told KGO that his Prius was so ripped apart by thieves breaking in to steal his battery that “it looked like a tornado went through.” He said the insurance adjuster that later met him at a repair shop told him he was working on three similar cases involving stolen batteries.

Peter Hecht contributed to this report.