Could gangs of thieves target your electric car for its battery?

Forget draining fuel tanks or stealing catalytic converters – the latest vehicle crime wave to hit San Francisco is theft of batteries from electric cars.

Gangs of professional criminals are reportedly targeting the hybrid Toyota Prius by cutting through cables and risking an electric shock if it’s not done correctly.

A Toyota dealer in San Francisco told ABC7 News that it had replaced “quite a few” stolen batteries.

In the UK, Toyota says it costs approximately £800 to replace the battery on a Prius – although they are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle.

A search of eBay reveals used batteries can make over £500 – meaning the latest trend could soon tempt criminals in the UK.

Previously thefts of catalytic converters in the UK have soared due to the precious metals they contain.

Expert criminals can tear off a catalytic converter in a matter of minutes, leaving the car owner with thousands of pounds of damage.