Toyota Sequoias have become the target of a costly new crime trend in northeast Queens.
Thieves are stealing catalytic converters off the bottom of the SUVs in the 111th Precinct and selling them for the precious metals inside, like platinum, the precinct said.
The needed device that prevents engine exhaust gasses from polluting the environment is worth at least $200 to criminals, police said. But replacing the converter can set car owners back at least $1,000.
“It’s a new thing,” Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta said. “It’s very expensive, and you’d have to get your car towed.”
Four catalytic converters have been taken off Toyota Sequoias in the last two months within the precinct that covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows, Huerta said.
The crime, difficult to prevent, happens in about one minute, according to the executive officer. At least two vehicles have been tampered with on residential streets and even driveways.
It sounds like “a very loud rumble” when the car is started without a catalytic converter, Huerta said.
The deputy inspector said parking in well-lit areas, being aware of surroundings and checking on cars, even while at home, could help avoid the theft.