Stealing car badges (aka emblems) is a relatively uncommon but extremely irritating worldwide phenomenon, with owners reporting thefts in India, Sweden and even in South America where the Peruvian Budget Car Rental contract includes "Car Emblem Theft Protection" [source: Budget Car Rental - Peru]. In the United States, badges gone missing have been reported from coast to coast. No doubt many additional thefts have gone unreported.
So, who's wreaking this havoc? Well, whether it's right or wrong, most car badge thefts are attributed to teenagers. The hardest hit country seems to be England, where collecting car badges through illicit means appears to be endemic among that nation's youth. Of course England isn't alone. America has a tradition of emblem theft, too. A 1996 episode of "The Simpsons" dramatized the crime, with Bart's nemesis Nelson swiping the hood ornament off of school superintendent Chalmers' Honda. [TVLoop.com].
Badge thieves who have the misfortune to be nabbed seldom explain why they did it, unless they wanted a badge to make a necklace. It seems unlikely someone would use a hybrid badge for that purpose, though. Explaining why a teenager does something is way beyond our scope here. But we can tell you this, even among behavioral experts, irrational theft and vandalism of items of little value but big inconvenience seems to cause normally calm people to suddenly become vociferous advocates of public punishments, like caning, for example.
Hybrid cars are popular right now, which might help explain why a hybrid badge might attract a young "collector." But there's also a possibility your badge migrated to someone else's car, either for the "green" prestige factor, if applied to a newer vehicle, or as a joke if it now adorns the tailgate of an old pickup. Kind of makes you wonder if the thief knew a generic hybrid emblem can be obtained on the Internet for as little as $7.95?
Most body-side badges are flat on the back and are stuck on tightly with a moisture and UV resistant adhesive. Hood and deck emblems occasionally use attachment studs. Thieving vandals are typically in a hurry and often use a screwdriver or a similar tool to pry badges from the car's surface. This method usually scratches the paint and may even damage the body panel. Legitimate do-it-yourself debadgers typically use a hair dryer or a heat gun to soften the adhesive, and then carefully separate the badge from the body panel, by gently "sawing" through the adhesive with a credit card, dental floss or fishing line.
Stick around for the next page, where we provide some advice on replacing your stolen hybrid badge yourself.