Prius Cat Theft Tracking

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by PriusCamper, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    The theft of gen2 catalytic converters in less than 60 seconds in recent years been an extraordinary development in low emission vehicle technology!

    Symptoms: "You'll notice a loud rumbling or roaring sound as soon as you turn on the engine if your catalytic converter is missing. This gets louder when you hit the gas. The exhaust is not working properly, so the vehicle also drives rougher than usual, often with a sense of sputtering as you change speed." Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft | City of Garden Grove

    What's worse is the sensor mounted to the cat can have the wires damaged during the theft, which can short circuit the ECU, which means yet another potentially expensive part to replace.

    The theft numbers right now are out of control with more than a thousand(s) victims in California alone: Over 100 catalytic converters stolen from cars in recent weeks | PriusChat

    So at this point it makes sense to create a thread to keep track of news people run across as we watch the situation/crisis develop.

    This thread can also help people who have been robbed of their cat, as well as people who are considering selling their OEM cats to network.

    Also as many know California and possibly the state of New York and Maine require OEM cat replacement which can cost as much as $2500, which can often mean spending more than is reasonable to keep owning your Gen2 Prius.

    This could potentially mean a car designed to cut in half vehicle emissions are being taken off the road in great numbers because California and possibly other state's regulations are punishing the victims rather than the predators who are profiting off these thefts.

    In terms of precious metal value, as of January 2021 here's a quote that I updated with the latest market prices:

    "The platinum, palladium and rhodium are the three precious metals in the catalytic converters. The earlier converters had more precious metals where today most vehicles have multiple converters that have less rare metals in them. The second generation Prius has 6 grams of precious metals (about 2 grams each). Platinum is worth about $35 a gram, palladium is worth about $76 a gram and rhodium is about $600 a gram. So instead of destroying the earth like they have been, it's cheaper to remove it from catalytic converters that aren't used anymore (or stolen)."

    For those of you looking into selling your OEM cat for states that requires OEM the cheap $130 replacement cats are proving to not increase emissions, but may even slighty reduce emissions more than OEM thanks to the initial tests of @TMR-JWAP here: OEM and Aftermarket Catalytic Converter emissions | PriusChat What's more one person on PriusChat sold their cat on ebay for $1360, which is the current record (see updates below).

    Last fall when I replaced a clogged cat for someone I met on here I wanted to avoid the sellers in New Jersey as I've had lots of awful online purchasing experiences in general from that state. So I chose a California seller who ended up being a seller from China who shipped from Kentucky and shut down their business right after my order. Nonetheless, that $130 cat install went well.

    The latest is this winter all the available cheap aftermarket cats on ebay are only coming from sellers in Ontario, Canada and their subsidiary just over the border in Buffalo, New York though that subsidiary says they won't sell cats to people in the state of New York, so not sure how long that will last?

    in other words this is a big huge ugly mess where innovations and regulations to limit air pollution has run into precious metal organized crime in ways that are taking way too many low emission Prius off the road for good. So maybe we can build up this thread and limit the damage by giving the latest information in the thread below? Or at least I hope so.

    If you've been stolen from or have sold your OEM cat, or are considering selling your OEM cat, please post your thoughts/experiences below:
     
    #1 PriusCamper, Jan 25, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
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  2. Elektroingenieur

    Elektroingenieur Senior Member

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    California does allow aftermarket catalytic converters, but only with CARB approval, and none has been approved for Prius cars. I’ve suggested that it might be useful to find out why.
    It’s always interesting to see real observations, such as those @TMR-JWAP kindly shared, but I’m not sure I’d accept that conclusion without much more evidence.

    I’m still curious about how well the aftermarket converters really work, both in certification drive cycles such as FTP 75 and in real-world operation. As Toyota’s technical paper [1] mentions, in hybrid vehicles, “[T]he key point is how to minimize the exhaust emissions that are emitted when the engine is restarted.” Perhaps the world-famous graduate students with the Horiba in the hatch (PDF) are looking for a new project.

    If Toyota could have achieved AT-PZEV certification for the second-generation Prius model using a catalytic converter with lower precious-metal content—and thus reduced the price of the car or increased their profit margin—wouldn’t they have done so? Indeed, I wonder if that’s one reason we haven’t seen aftermarket replacements that stand up to scrutiny: by the time a supplier covers the cost of the precious metals, and of development, certification, and production, they might have to charge as much as Toyota does, if not more.

    [1] Muta, K., Yamazaki, M., and Tokieda, J., “Development of New-Generation Hybrid System THS II - Drastic Improvement of Power Performance and Fuel Economy,” SAE Technical Paper 2004-01-0064, 2004.
     
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  3. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    How much has cat manufacturing advanced/improved between the 2004 design being mass produced for Prius and the inexpensive ones that they sell now?

    There's not any major sellers just some small operations on ebay and Amazon and there's a transient nature to them, so that's concerning.

    And is the difference in the aftermarket version lower or better quality because it was manufactured 16 years later using different/same manufacturing methods?

    Meanwhile a gram of rhodium only costs $30 back in 2004 compared to $600 a gram today. So it seems rhodium would of been replaced/limited by all car builders in recents times and they'd still meet emissions requirements, right?

    Meanwhile just checked and search engine says $1700-ish is lowest price from dealerships and just visited PartsGeek and seems like they're selling the Ebay-style ones for $400 with the warning:

    "Not For Sale or Use on vehicles licensed in the state of CA, CO, ME & NY. Restrictions may apply in other states. Check with your state authority for details." 2004-2009 Toyota Prius Catalytic Converter - Exhaust - AP Exhaust 04-09 Prius Catalytic Converter - 18054-05938264 - PartsGeek
     
    #3 PriusCamper, Jan 25, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  4. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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  5. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    I would rather not populate an online database for the thieves.
     
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  6. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    The purpose of this thread isn't to help thieves, but to assist victims... How in the world/why would you think otherwise?
     
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  7. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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  8. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    In the US I think all the smart thieves are in Washington DC.
     
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  9. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Looks like cat thefts got picked up by New York Times... They mentioned that the high cost car manufactures are paying for cats these days is further pressuring the shift to electric cars and a more rapid demise of ICE cars, so that's kinda cool.

    Also we got our first official response from Toyota about Prius being targeted to which their dismissive response borders on insulting when they dishonestly claim that lots of vehicles other than Toyota are being targeted. Lol...

    Anyways here's a quote from the article as well as a link:

    "Some states have started to require scrapyards and other recyclers to check photo IDs before buying used catalytic converters. California even requires businesses to take a photograph or video clip of the seller, and retain those records for two years. But different rules between states makes tracking and enforcement almost impossible, law enforcement officials say." https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/climate/catalytic-converter-theft.html
     
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  10. mavdrivesprius

    mavdrivesprius New Member

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    I saw the New York Times article, only about 6 months after the police here in NYC told me they had "never heard of this" before, which made me come back here to ask: can thieves tell that my catalytic converter no longer has the precious metals? I replaced the stolen one on my Gen2 prius with a $1xx one, but didn't get any additional protection. If someone were to crawl under the car, could they tell that the one I have isn't worth anything?
     
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  11. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    I thought you can't pass vehicle inspection without a cheap aftermarket cat in NY?

    And if you answer my question, I'll answer yours: How much do you trust thieves not to be stupid? In other words, no they sometimes can't tell the difference. Here is a link to your answer in more detail: We sure grow 'em stupid in South Carolina..... | PriusChat
     
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  12. mavdrivesprius

    mavdrivesprius New Member

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    Thanks! That makes sense.

    My reading of the rule interpreted it as applying at the repair shop level. (can't post link but looking at DECNY summary and it has a link to the legislation)
    I couldn't find any details about whether it's part of the annual inspection, but at any rate (perhaps I got lucky / pandemic benefits) it passed so I am good for at least one more year.

    I can share more details in PM but can't get the "start a conversation" to work.
     
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  13. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Pretty easy to figure out why!!
    California also "allows" people to get a concealed carry permit.
    Care to guess how many get issued in zip codes starting with "90" ?? ;)

    They don't want people driving older cars in Caly.
    Cats fail.
    Especially in cars with high oil change intervals and inattentive owners.

    They start burning oil.
    The CEL (change owner light) illuminates.
    The owner investigates and finds out that it will cost $1500 to fix a car that's worth $3000.
    They buy a newer car and the car gets auctioned off and sold in a less restrictive state or enterprising people "find" an OEM cat from another source.

    The reason that Priuses are something of a statistical outlier is that there are a lot of them on the road behind the tinsel curtain because of high gas prices and because G2s are very reliable.

    That's the NYT for you.
    "All the news that fits....we print!"

    I submit that many of the G2 cats that are stolen are "recycled" by muffler shops...... ;)

    HOWEVER (comma!) there is a grain of truth in the article.
    Caly wants gassers out of their state.
    THATS why they're not exactly jumping through hoops to certify a non-oem catalytic converter.

    It sorta makes sense.
    If a car is burning enough oil to bilge its cat, then it's pretty much near the end of its service life anyway.
     
  14. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Your claim that there's a state conspiracy to get out "gassers" out of their state in 2021... Neither of us know the details of why aftermarket cats for Prius can't get certified for use in California, but it's absurd to suggest that California thinks the most fuel efficient ICE hybrids needs to be targeted and by making it too expensive with OEM cat replacement requirements, they found a sneaky way to achieve their goal.

    What's more as the article says, Prius cats have a much longer lifespand due to half the MPG is coming from electricity not gasoline.

    Lastly, in all my conversations with muffler shops and their recyclers, they make clear that their business license and liability insurance is at stake here and they will do everything they can to avoid being associated with felony theft. Also they know the vehicle exhaust market better than us in their town and they have a better sense of who's involved in these illicit activities. An owner of a muffler shop in my town told me, I know who's doing these thefts and I told the detectives everything I knew and they won't go after these guys.
     
  15. chronon

    chronon Active Member

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    In terms of precious metal value, as of January 2021 here's a quote that I updated with the latest market prices:

    "The platinum, palladium and rhodium are the three precious metals in the catalytic converters. The earlier converters had more precious metals where today most vehicles have multiple converters that have less rare metals in them. The second generation Prius has 6 grams of precious metals (about 2 grams each). Platinum is worth about $35 a gram, palladium is worth about $76 a gram and rhodium is about $600 a gram. So instead of destroying the earth like they have been, it's cheaper to remove it from catalytic converters that aren't used anymore (or stolen)."



    the pre cat and post cat .. primary and secondary .. is this 6 each or 6 total ?
     
  16. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    1. A ‘conspiracy’ is a secret plan to do something harmful or unlawful.
    Getting gassers out of Caly may or may not be harmful, but it's certainly not illegal. I seem to...um... “recall” an executive order stating a sunset date to do exactly that.
    A ‘conspiracy’ looks more to ME like people in power obfuscating numbers or CHANGING data.
    Cat theft in caly is not the best sample of this either (unlike NY!) G2 Priuses are downmarket cars now and frankly....nobody really cares much outside of insurance companies covering cars in select zip codes, and spillover in dense urban areas.
    There are a lot of YouTube vids about how easy it is to take a cat, and G2 cats ARE worth the effort outside Cally, but it’s still kinda rare.

    B. G2 Priuses are efficient, but they’re all old enough to drink and given SoCals driving patterns they really do not spend all that many miles in electric mode on those aging battery packs.
    I personally think that if there are $1000 worth of rare elements in an XW20 it's a net carbon positive to keep them in service.... ONLY in another state, with a $150 cat installed.
    Why use all of that carbon throughput to keep a 15 year old car on the road?

    iii. Felony theft? Business license? In California?
    I almost caffeinated my keypad and screen over that.
    I’m sure your fireworks factories worry about that too!!
    (Not judging! I LIKE fireworks!!!)

    Even in a pre-Gascón world, prop 47 as much as incentivized property crime.
    I seriously doubt that an ‘independent’ muffler ‘shop’ is really sweating about a sting operation from a popular, well funded police force.

    Others really did beat me to the obvious punch line.
    If you live in the other 51 states.....sell your cat and install a cheap aftermarket unit.
    If you live in a high crime area....maybe install a cat shield or just use a straight pipe and an O2 sensor hack if you’re not sweating the negative karma.
    Perhaps also install a Wyze cam to see the look of surprise on their face when the thieves wiggle under the car and see no cat to steal. :D
     
    #16 ETC(SS), Feb 13, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  17. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    I hope so.
    After selling my Oem cat for $1360 on eBay to a bidder in Mass I bought a cat off Amazon.
    When I got it I spray painted it bright orange with header paint. It’s really noticeable but maybe not so much in the dark. Props to Georgina her idea.

    Also the replacement cat I bought had a bigger end pipe where it mated to the cut off part the muffler installer cut to remove my oem cat so it required a metal bushing
    And some welding resulting in a much harder area for them to cut off.
    It won’t stop them but they will quickly see it’s quite harder and different.
    I assume they would just cut the aft resonator to get it off but hoping the thief would recognize this is not the juicy cat he’s after and pretty worthless.

    it’s very odd here in the Tampa area cat theft is very rare. Maybe Jerry will weigh in he lives close to me I have not heard or seen anything about it.
    The muffler guy thought I was nuts he has not heard about it.

    My neighbor 3 doors down his 07 is at the end of a dark driveway now for 3 years never touched. When I warned him he laughed.

    sooner or later....
     
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  18. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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  19. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    In reading through what you wrote it seems like you're sitting in front of your computer thinking up how the world works with your imagination rather than doing honest research and having conversations with people who work in the business in real life.

    Especially the part where you doubt people are worried about their business insurance and license to operate if they get on the wrong side of this very active crime wave. Truth is every shop owner I talked to is very concerned about this of course you wouldn't understand that 'because you just sit in front of your computer and make stuff up that feels like it could be true to you. It's embarassing.

    Do some honest research and provide some references if you want to participate in the discussion. Otherwise you're just talking at us rather than with us.
     
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  20. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Follow the Science?
    Follow the data?
    ;)
     
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