Catalytic converter theft: how to protect your car

The theft of catalytic converters from cars isn’t a new crime, but it has increased significantly in recent times.

Police forces around the UK, including those in West Yorkshire, London and Nottinghamshire, are advising owners of any car fitted with a catalytic converter to take precautions.

Any car fitted with a catalytic converter could be at risk. In Toyota’s case it is second and third-generation Prius models (2004-2009 and 2009-2016 respectively) and second-generation Auris Hybrids (2012-2018) which have been particular targets for thieves.

Below we’ve gathered the best advice for Toyota owners who may be concerned.

What is a catalytic converter? 

The catalytic converter is part of the car’s emissions control system. It cleans up the exhaust gases before they are expelled from the car through the exhaust pipe. Its internal elements react with the gases, breaking them down into less harmful substances and water vapour. All cars sold in Europe since 1993 have had to be fitted with catalytic converter by law.

Why are they a target for thieves?

Clearly the police are best placed to offer advice on the motives behind this crime, but we understand that in the main, the value of the catalytic converter for recycling is the main attraction to thieves, because they contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium.

What is Toyota doing to stop its cars being targeted?

We’re doing all we can. We’ve shared police guidance with customers, and we have developed and reduced the price of a ‘Catloc’ device which can deter theft and make it more difficult. Toyota teams in the UK and other countries are urgently exploring new technical possibilities to deter criminals as well.

We are also working with the police, as well as talking to government about changes in the law around scrap metal sales that would make it harder for criminals to sell stolen catalysts for cash.

However, these are criminal operations and our scope is therefore limited. A number of police forces are taking action and some forces, such as Nottinghamshire, are also starting awareness campaigns. It is vitally important for anyone who is a victim of this crime to report it to their local police force as quickly as possible.

In the main it remains older cars that are targeted because advances in efficiency and technology mean the latest generations of Toyota catalytic converters contain vastly lower amounts of precious metals, whilst still doing their job just as well or even better; this means their value for recycling is very low and they are not attractive to thieves.

Does a Catloc give my car 100% protection from thieves?

Sadly not. It can make theft more difficult but thieves are using high-powered cutting tools to remove catalytic converters and because of this it is not possible to make catalytic converters ‘unstealable’. A Catloc makes it harder to steal a catalytic converter, slowing thieves down and acting as a deterrent. As mentioned above, we’re doing all we can to seek further technical options for customers.

Is Catloc available for my Toyota?

Catloc devices are available for a growing proportion of our range, but not all. We recommend speaking to your local Toyota centre.

How much does it cost to replace a catalytic converter?

Toyota’s first priority is to do all we can to support our customers who have been victims of crime.

We have moved to reduce the prices of replacement catalytic converters and Catlocs to a level where Toyota GB does not make any profit from supplying them to customers.

Your nearest Toyota centre can advise on exact costs after inspecting your vehicle.

Is it true that there is a long wait for replacement catalytic converter parts for Toyota cars?

The rapid rise in this crime in 2019 is one we could not have envisaged, set against many years of low incidence of catalytic converter theft. This initially impacted our ability to source enough of the parts we needed in some cases, for which we sincerely apologise.

We worked hard with suppliers in France and Japan, though, and have hugely increased supply.

If I’m worried about my Toyota model, what should I do?

We recommend you use our locator tool to find your nearest Toyota centre and contact them to discuss the best way to protect your car.

This article was last updated on 1 June 2020, so some of the responses to reader comments below have been superseded by more recent information.

1,450 comments

  1. Hi. Sorry to add to the misery but my cat got partially sawn off last week. Gen 2 Prius. I’ve started an insurance claim but I’m wondering if they’ll right it off as it has 127k miles on the clock – 2005 registered car. How much does Toyota charge the garage/insurance company for the replacement part? I’ve seen cheap ones on Ebay for £100 but I’m not sure I’d trust that! What is the price of a catloc fitted please?

    1. Hi James,

      Sorry to hear your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. A replacement part can be up to £1000 and a fitted Catloc should cost around £150 fitted including VAT for your vehicle.

      Thanks

  2. I’ve also been a victim of catalytic converter theft. This took place Friday night 19.02.21 from our driveway. Thieves were disturbed but it did not put them off. 2 men under my car, whilst another 2 armed men were keeping watch and ready to attack should anyone intervene. Whole attack took 2 minutes and was caught on cctv with Police notified.
    I’m sorry but I think Toyota need to take more responsibility. Affected Auris and Prius models should be part of a recall. This would be the most effective way of communicating and would alert all car owners of potential theft and what further action they need to take.
    I will be out of pocket either way now. If I don’t go through insurance, the replacement part costs £940’ish plus labour costs, so the total will be in region of £1200. I will have to go through my insurance, pay the excess and then be at risk of increased premiums. Anyone with an Auris or Prius, will probably have their insurance premiums rocket in price, regardless of whether they’re a victim or not. It’s simply not fair.
    It has seriously put me off Toyota and I’m thinking of selling my car as I don’t want the risk of intruders on my property again. If Toyota do not accept responsibility they will lose loyal customers such as myself who is on my 5th Toyota car. Cat locks should be fitted free of cost if Toyota hope to retain their loyal customers and limit the brand damage.

    1. Hi,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. Technically, any car fitted with a catalyitc converter is at risk, and thefts of this kind have been happening for many years. It is only in the last few years there has been a sharp increase, due to the rise in value of some of the materials found inside the catalytic converter. This is not something that Toyota could have foreseen when your car was developed. Unfortunately there is little anybody can do to stop determined/dangerous criminals with weapons and power tools. Recalls are for safety related issues, not criminal issues. Again, we’re sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted and hope you are back on the road again soon.

      Thanks

  3. I live in Derby. My Auris Hybrid catalytic converter was stolen from the drive on Sunday evening Feb 7th at 9:30pm. The police were quickly on the scene but the 3 men had gone. They were wearing balaclavas. I was shocked to be confronted on my drive by such brazen thieves. It does appear to be a massive issue for the Toyota Auris’ and I wouldn’t recommend anyone to get one. The repair is going through the insurance but the garage have rung and emailed to say their Toyota parts supplier “still don’t have an estimated arrival date from factory”. My fear is that when I get the car back the gang will also return even though I plan to get the £250 catloc. I don’t want to go through this again

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We’re so sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and appreciate the distress this must have caused.

      Any vehicle containing a catalytic converter is in theory at risk of theft, and, although these thefts have been happening for many years, there has been a rise in recent times due to the increase in value of some of the metals contained inside this part.

      We believe criminals are targeting older Toyota vehicles such as the Auris because of the higher concentration of these desired materials, and this is why we have developed theft deterrent devices to try and protect customers from further attacks.

      However, criminals with high-grade power tools can be very determined and therefore difficult to stop entirely.

      We are doing all we can to secure supply of replacement parts and hope you are back on the road as soon as possible.

      Thanks.

    1. Hi Stuart,
      Thanks for contacting us.
      We only produce CatLocs for vehicles considered to be most at risk, and this does not include the C-HR.
      Please contact your nearest Toyota Centre for information on other theft prevention options.
      Thanks.

  4. Another Auris driver who has had this happen. It is currently going through the insurance but as so many have said the parts are on back order so who knows when the car will be returned.
    We purchased our Auris in January 2020 and I do feel strongly that Toyota should have at the very least mentioned having a Catloc fitted to the car, surely this comes under good customer service and we would have gone for it. My only thought is that your salesman didn’t want to ‘lose’ the sale but here we are now without our car and having to get the Catloc fitted anyway.

    1. Hi Duncan,
      Thanks for contacting us. We’re so sorry to hear this.
      We have tried to make sure that as many customers as possible are aware of this horrible crime through a variety of different communication methods, but we’re sorry that this messaging didn’t reach you.
      We’re currently working hard to try and secure replacement parts supplies and get our customers back on the road as soon as possible.
      We appreciate the distress this crime must have caused and are truly sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by these brazen thieves.
      Thanks.

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