Thieves in Japan are stealing platinum and palladium parts from Toyota Prius cars as rare metal prices rise
- Toyota Prius cars are being targeted by thieves in Japan for parts containing precious metals, such as platinum and palladium.
- Last year, there were 173 thefts of mufflers or catalytic converters in eastern Tokyo.
Thieves in Japan are stealing platinum and palladium parts from Toyota Prius cars as prices of the metals rise, according to Bloomberg.
Last year, there were 173 thefts of mufflers or catalytic converters in the country's Chiba prefecture – that's 16 times more than in 2021. About 90% of the lootings were from Prius cars, per the report, which cited local police.
Platinum and palladium have been on the rise in recent years. Prices spiked after the war in Ukraine erupted last year, given Russia accounts for about 40% of the global supply of the rare metals. Palladium hit highs above $3,000 an ounce last March, while platinum surged above $1,300 an ounce.
Alongside precious metals, other commodities like oil and gas have also surged since the start of the Ukraine war, as Western sanctions on Moscow curbed global energy supply.
Japan isn't the only country hit by metal theft. The US and UK have also seen such crimes.
Last November, the US Justice Department announced the takedown of a national network of thieves associated with precious metal stealings. Arrests, searches, seizures took place in states including California, New York and Virginia.
"Just like the precious metal inside every catalytic converter, there's a money trail at the core of every criminal scheme," said Chief Jim Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation. "There are real victims here – friends, neighbors, and businesses," he added.
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