A Wave of Anti-Prius Vandalism in Seattle?

August 17
Vandals in Seattle are targeting the Toyota Prius in a “rash of attacks,” according to MyBallard, a local neighborhood website. The website reported that “a number of street-parked Prius windshields were…smashed” over the weekend, including one owner who reported that his Prius’ was vandalized on Friday night.

Seattle Police Detective Mark Jamieson confirmed a single incident that occurred on Friday at 11:30 pm on the 1900 block of NW 73rd street. When the owner responded to his vehicle alarm going off, he discovered that a street sign had been thrown into the front windshield, and the rear driver’s side taillight was smashed. The owner didn’t see or hear a suspect, according to the police report—contradicting the MyBallard post claiming the suspect was driving an SUV. Detective Jamieson was unable to locate other anti-Prius incidents in Seattle. “It doesn’t appear at this point to be any sort of pattern,” Jamieson told HybridCars.com.

During record high gas prices in spring 2008, vandalism against Priuses was on the rise. There were reports of at least seven attacks in Petaluma, Calif. in April 2008. Vandals used bricks or rocks to smash windshields, and there was one instance of a Prius getting rammed by another vehicle. Three months later, a Toyota Prius was set on fire in Los Angeles. Fire investigators concluded that the inferno was the result of arson. Anti-Prius vandalism dates back to 2004, when there was a spate of Priuses being “keyed” in Las Vegas.

The most visible act of car-related political vandalism occurred in 2003, when so-called “eco-arsonists” set blaze to 20 Hummer H2s, valued in total at $3 million, in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles. The vandals targeted the Hummer—the vehicle that symbolizes gas-guzzling and disregard for the environment. According to UK’s The Independent, several vehicles were spray-painted with graffiti slogans, including “Fat, Lazy Americans”, and daubed with the letters ELF, which stands for Earth Liberation Front, a radical fringe ecological group, which claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Speculation about the cause of last year’s anti-Prius attacks includes anger against the environmental movement and, in California, envy about hybrid drivers’ ability to legally drive solo in carpool lanes.

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