It’s not uncommon for thieves to steal valuable goods and sell them, but it is uncommon for them to target 50 pound car batteries. A rash of hybrid car battery thefts has plagued Queens, according to CBS New York.
“They’re taking them out of the cars, and they’re selling them on the open market,” said Debra Markell Kleinert, the district manager for Queens Community Board 2. “And people are coming out and finding their batteries missing.”
Hybrid cars run from two different power sources — one is gasoline, much like a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle. The other is the hybrid battery, which is an electric power source that uses regenerative braking to hold a charge. The switch between the two is seamless.
According to the New York Police Department, there have been 14 instances of hybrid battery theft in the city since last November, many of them in Queens. Most of the cars were hybrid Toyota Camrys, and the majority of them yellow cabs.
There is a higher concentration of Toyota Camrys that are used as taxicabs in New York City because they are certified for use as cabs and the city encourages their use to help reduce air pollution, Ecomento.com reports.
“This is dangerous because these are high voltage battery packs that need to be worked on with the proper equipment and knowledge, you can easily be killed digging around for a battery of this size,” says Eli Pruett, President of Bumblebee Batteries. “You don’t want to be buying replacement hybrid batteries off a place like craigslist, it’s important to buy a battery from a reputable dealer to know its been reconditioned properly. Theft aside, many don’t have much luck with junkyard batteries let alone random stolen hybrid car batteries.”
Reportedly the thieves pry open the hoods of the cars, remove the batteries, and make off with them. Hybrid car batteries can cost between $3,000 and $4,000 on average in the United States. Aside from the sheer weight of the batteries, stealing hybrid batteries can be difficult since it puts the thief at risk for an electric shock up to 233 volts.
While stealing hybrid batteries can be a dangerous game, it certainly is a lucrative one.