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From Japan to U.S., thieves grab car parts worth more than gold

Catalytic converter theft hits near Toyota town: 'Never heard of such a case'

Used catalytic converters: These emissions-cutting auto parts are sought after by thieves for their precious metals. (Photo courtesy of Johnson Matthey)

TOKYO -- In a city near Toyota Motor's hometown, police were recently confronted by a rare kind of theft, even for low-crime Japan.

A Toyota Prius hybrid reported stolen last month in Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture, was later recovered with its catalytic converter cut out.

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