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.

1,576 comments

  1. As regards the Catloc, is there one available for the Auris, as our local police force is saying the Auris is being targeted as well as the Prius.

    1. Sorry, but I know someone who HAS had the catalytic convertor stolen from their car whilst parked in a car park. Also one police force is naming the Auris as one car at risk .

    2. I know of one person who has had the catalytic convertor stolen on their Auris. Also on Toyota Owners Club, two members have posted that their Auris’s have had theirs stolen. So whether the cats are exposed or not, some are being stolen.

    3. I had my stolen, my insurance company says they are targeting the Auris as well as the Prius

      1. Hi there,

        Thanks for getting in touch. We are sorry for any confusion we may have caused with our previous comment. We have now confirmed with our technical team that we are currently developing a Catloc for second generation Auris. Please keep an eye on our blog and social channels for future updates on this.

        If you would like to discuss your situation further please feel free to contact our customer relations team, you can find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

        Thanks.

      2. This site is pathetic and all we see is “I am sorry bla blah blah” I have just had my catalytic converter stolen and this twice within space of under a year. I have a Prius 2008 and my insurance range covered the cost first time and cannot afford to get this covered again by insurance company. I was a big fan of hybrid cars but now would not recommend anyone buying a Toyota hybrid car. Not worth the hassle when even your own dress veway is not safe. I would not even advise on fitting a catloc as this did not deter the thieves stealing from my car. I would not even consider buying a Toyota car and will be telling my peers He same thing.

  2. Hi just stumbled across this. My wife’s 63 reg Auris Hybrid was targeted today at train station car park. Found the bottom panel removed so looks like they are targeting the Auris too 🙁 Will there be a Catloc for it?

    1. Hi there,

      We are very sorry to hear about this situation. A Catloc for Generation 2 Auris is under development and will be available in the near future, however we have no further information to reveal at this time. If you would like to talk about this with someone in our Customer Relations team you can find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Thanks.

  3. My cat got stolen on Friday! I really want to get one of these catlocs fitted as soon as possible.
    I’m bloody furious at how easily the scumbags can steal them.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for your patience and sorry for the delay. If you can provide a full reg or VIN number we can look into this further for you.

      Thanks.

  4. My wife had the cat stolen from her 2014 Auris at Leicester University car park on 21st June. It was the 5th Toyota hybrid targeted that week in the area.

    I have contacted my Toyota dealer and they have told me there is no catloc available for my vehicles (2014 Auris and 2017 Rav4). I then contacted Catloc directly and they told me I could choose from one of their generic models, but I wouldn’t be able to return it as they do not specify for my cars.

    I would be happy to pay £200 for a security device, but there is nothing available. Toyota you need to be supporting all your hybrid customers!!!

    1. Hi Shaun,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry to hear about this situation. We can confirm that a Catloc is being developed for second generation Auris that will be available in the near future. However, we have no further information to reveal at this time. Please feel free to contact our customer relations team if you would like to discuss this further. You can find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Thanks.

  5. Yes, my 2015 Toyota Auris was parked in a public Park and Ride with plenty of security cameras. It didn’t deter the thieves on Tues 9th July. I filed police report and insurance covers damage but I still lose due to my excess and increased premiums. **Toyota… this is something your customers want urgent action on! ** Step up now!

    1. Hi Ricardo,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry to hear about this situation. We can confirm that a Catloc is currently in development for second generation Auris and will be available in the near future. However, we have no further information to reveal at this time.

      Please feel free to contact our customer relations team if you would like to discuss this further. You can find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Thanks.

    2. Hi Shaun,

      We are extremely sorry to hear about your situation. We can confirm that a Catloc is being developed for second generation Auris that will be available in the near future. Please keep an eye on our blog and social channels for when more information is available.

      Thanks.

  6. Cambridge park and ride carparks being targetted, primarily the Prius. These sites are supposed to have CCTV but people are being led in to a false sense of security because the cameras do not always work and the staff fail to notice even when a van/car must be stopping several times, next to the target cars, to do the theft. I am advised that all it takes is the time needed to jack up one side of the car, break the plastic clips, cut through one or two other clips, remove a bolt and force off a cover plate.

    Not only do Toyota need to bring pressure to bear to collate the known information from the CCTV images – there is more than one camera – but all drivers should have been offered the catlock FOR FREE as a method of protecting the reputation of the Prius.

    This theft, even if insured, is going to cost a lot of money, it has caused the cancellation of appointments – for which I might be charged – , the altering of ferry information (for which a service charge will be levied), and it has wasted NHS money because it was not possible to reach a pre-booked appointment for a routine cancer screening test, which will take weeks to re-book. Tomorrow I will have to grovel to the surgery and apologise for wasting the time of the receptionists, the data entry clerks and the practice nurse. A single missed appointment is probably another £100 which might have gone to healthcare if I hadn’t been sitting miles away, out of hours, waiting for a tow-truck. The extra miles clocked up in one night by tow trucks and onward cars – there were at least three thefts that I know of – was all energy which need not have been expended.

    Theft is not a victimless crime which is covered by insurance. It passes hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damages on to the wider society.

    Toyota knew about this potential problem but took no opportunity to warm me of it, denying me the chance to make an informed choice about the catlock. Why, then, would I look at any Toyota when the time comes to replace the Prius. It appears the Auris is similarly vulnerable.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch, we are extremely sorry to hear about this situation. Catlocs are currently available for certain models and we are currently looking at expanding this range.

      If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact our customer relations team. You can find their details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Thanks.

  7. I have had my Cat stolen from my 2018 Auris in Royal Derby Hospital Car Park on 15 July. Dealer says there is a delay in getting replacement. Toyota needs to find a solution for this model as well.

    1. Hello, Tony.

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry to hear about this situation. We are currently in the process of developing a catloc for the second generation Auris that will be available in the near future. However, we have no further information to reveal at this time. Please feel free to contact our customer relations team if you would like to discuss this further. You can find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Thanks.

    2. Nearly 2 months down the lane and my Dealership keep failing in their promises to make a repair due to failings by Toyota to deliver the necessary parts. It’s about time Toyota UK made a decent offer of compensation to its very dissatisfied customers. How about a new Corolla which is being heavily promoted at present.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch. At this time we don’t have any plans for a Catloc for the Lexus CT as it is no more susceptible to theft than any other manufacturer. We do however monitor the circulation of vehicles and those deemed a target for criminal activity in order to take proactive action.

      Thanks.

  8. I am sitting in my car at moment waiting for my car to be towed my Auris 2017 has had its cat stolen this morning. When I went into hospital to work at North Middlesex hospital in North London.
    It’s gonna cost me excess to get this replaced which can’t be recovered.
    I don’t see why owners have to pay for these deterrent devices to be fitted as it should be part of the vehicle as this is a known issue and it would save Toyota money in the long run and give people more confidence in this situation which I would not want to happen to anyone.
    I guess they have not released one for my car yet but this is a nightmare if you have to pick up kids from school and also not being able to get home.

    1. Hi Colin,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us today. We take the issue of theft very seriously and are extremely sorry to hear about this situation. We are continuously working on developing solutions to ensure our vehicles are more secure, and can confirm a Catloc for second generation Auris is currently under development.

      To discuss your situation further, we would recommend getting in touch with our customer relations team. You can find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Hope this helps.

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