Madison Police, Smart Motors Toyota working to halt catalytic converter thievery

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Police Department and a local car dealership are working to find ways to reduce catalytic converter thefts in the city.

Smart Motors Toyota officials said they are working with police to create a potential solution to the problem for those who could be targeted.

“We are working with the city of Madison Police Department on serializing their catalytic converters, and what this will allow the police department to do is attach a serial to a specific vehicle so they can track down where that converter came from,” Rob Jordan, who works at the dealership, said.

More than a dozen vehicles, nearly all of which were Toyota Prius models,  had their catalytic converters stolen over a two-week period recently, continuing a trend that has been alarming for Madison Police. 

Hundreds of catalytic converters have been taken in the city so far this year; as of late September, the number was over 300. 

RELATED: 14 catalytic converters taken from vehicles in past two weeks, Madison police say

It’s a trend that doesn’t surprise Jordan, who has seen more than his fair share of cases recently.

“One of the things the Madison community is known for is our environmentalism so there are a lot of Prius (vehicles) out there, and it’s one of the top targets,” Jordan said.

The Prius is known as being an environmentally friendly vehicle. It also has a reputation among thieves as being a jackpot.

According to car expert Harvey Briggs, catalytic converters on Prius models contain a large concentration of precious metals.

 “(They have) things like polonium, platinum and rhodium in them. Rhodium costs $11,500 an ounce,” Briggs said. 

Police recommend avoiding parking vehicles — especially Prius models — on the street when possible. Officers are also increasing patrols in areas targeted by thieves.

Drivers looking for an immediate solution can also have a metal plate installed on the underside of their vehicles for around $500 to give their vehicle extra protection.