Catalytic converter theft: how to protect your car

Catalytic converter theft 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 Suffolk, 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?

In May 2021, Toyota (GB) announced that it would be covertly marking more than 100,000 catalytic converters in order to combat theft. By working with police and Smartwater, catalytic converters can be tagged with an invisible yet traceable marking, meaning that a stolen catalytic converter can be traced to a specific crime, helping police in their attempts to fight the organised gangs responsible. It also raises the risk to all those handling the devices along the criminal chain, from theft to eventual disposal and recycling.

It is free to get the catalytic converter marked, all customers need to do is call their local Toyota or Lexus retailer to arrange a visit.

In addition to this, Toyota has issued 20,000 Smartwater kits to police to support their local anti-catalyst theft initiatives. The company is also working with the AA, Toyota’s roadside partner, so its patrols can point customers to where they can get a free kit.

We have also 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 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.

Toyota has restarted production lines in Japan and France that made catalysts for many of the older models targeted in order to supply affected owners, developed a Catloc security device which helps deter theft (and has been granted a “Sold Secure with Gold Status” security ranking) and ensured it makes no profit at all from the sale of replacement catalysts or from Catlocs, providing them at cost.

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

If you are worried about potential catalytic converter theft from your Toyota, 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 13 May 2021, so some of the responses to reader comments below have been superseded by more recent information.

2,113 comments

  1. Just had my cat stolen today. I have an Auris hybrid 2016. I am mad. Found out that on the same street, earlier today another Toyota Auris was targeted. This is going to far. Should we all stop buying Toyota?

    1. Hi Simona,

      Thanks for getting in touch, we’re extremely sorry to hear about this situation. We take the issue of theft very seriously and in making sure our vehicles are as secure as possible, we can confirm a Catloc is under development at the moment for the second generation Auris.

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

      Hope this helps.

      1. No idea Aidan, the noise sounded like a grinder.
        The point is the £200 Catloc served no purpose, it did not deter nor slow down the thieves, so I wonder why it is still being recommended.
        Indeed there appears to be no alternative solution for Toyota customers at the moment.

    2. My Auris exhaust was stolen from a hospital car park just before i was due to go into theatre for surgery, discovered by my wife when she went to leave. It’s a company lease car so won’t personally be out of pocket but we live 60 miles from the hospital so if it wasn’t for our daughter and her car we would have been stranded. I hope the replacement will have the new anti theft devices fitted.

      1. What hospital? Had mine stole Saturday while I was working a day shift delivering babies 😔

      2. Hi there,

        We are deeply sorry to hear about this and for the distress this must have caused. We are keen to help all of our customers who have unfortunately been impacted by this situation and would recommend contacting our customer relations team who will be able to investigate this further for you. You will be able to find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

        Once again, we are extremely sorry to hear about this situation.

        Thanks.

    3. I suggest yes we should, mine and my neighbour were done at the same time from our car park, the metal cover for the CAT is a joke like a piece if kitchen foil.

      1. Hi Jay,

        We can now confirm Catlocs are available to order for the Gen2 Auris Hybrid and Gen3 Prius Hybrid. These vehicle specific Catlocs are manufactured from marine grade stainless steel and have been tested and developed to exacting technical standards to protect both front and rear Catalyst components against opportunist theft.

        Thanks.

      2. Hi Jeremy,

        Thanks for getting in touch. As mentioned, the Catlocs are manufactured from marine grade stainless steel, we have no other information to share on this.

        Thanks.

  2. I had Cat Loc fitted for my 2nd gen Prius by Toyota and the catalytic converter was stolen in 2 mins flat, as recorded by CCTV.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re sorry to hear about this situation. So we can have a better understanding on this can we check whether this was an official Toyota GB accessory and was fitted by a Toyota Centre?

      Thanks.

      1. Yes, it was fitted by the Toyota service (Currie Motors) in Isleworth, it cost me £200 and made no difference whatsoever. My neighbour also had the same device fitted simultaneously and suffered the same outcome. We are both surprised to see such strong recommendations from Toyota here.

      2. Hi Pawel,

        Thanks for getting back in touch. We take these situations seriously and are in the process of working with the relevant teams to better monitor this issue.

        Please could we kindly confirm whether you have contacted our Customer Relations team at our Head Office?

        If not, we would encourage you to contact them, and they would be happy to investigate this further. You will be able to find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

        Thanks.

      3. Is a completely waste of time to contact Customer Relations team. The’ve told me that I need to buy the Cat Loc. So, what help is that?

      4. Hi Pawel

        Could you share details of how they removed it with the Catloc?

        In my case without the Catloc they unbolted one end and used an angle grinder on the other.

        Thanks,

        Aidan

      5. I would think that any attmpt to make them thief proof will result in the committed thief doing even more damage.

      6. The referral to fit CatLoc is misleading. As pointed out above, I had one fitted by Toyota garage and the thieves took only 120 secs with a grinder at 4am in the morning, ignoring my desperate attempts to scare them away. I don’t know what the solution is but it is not CatLoc.

        PS. I have just completed the exchange with Toyota Customer Relations:
        “The Catloc’s are designed as a preventative security measure against opportunist theft only, as fitment will not stop a determined criminal from removing the device and Catalyst if they have enough time and the right equipment.”.
        Well, 2 mins was enough in my case.

        And finally
        “Regrettably, as this not a manufacturing defect and the result of criminal activity, we are unable to support goodwill.”

      7. Hi Aidan, they seem to have removed a part of the back box so indeed with the CatLoc the damage was more extensive.

  3. Does Toyota guarantee that the catloc will protect the car from theft?
    Shouldn’t Toyota offer the catloc for free?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Lee,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Catlocs are designed as a preventative security measure against opportunist theft only. It is unlikely to stop a determined criminal from removing the device and Catalyst if they have enough time and the right equipment, however this risk is present throughout the automotive industry.

      Thanks.

  4. Toyota! what can I say? yesterday my Auris 62 Reg and Prius 61 Reg were targeted on the same car park few meters away from each other and the scumbags managed to steal both converters. I am having second thoughts now about getting another car, not a Toyota nor hybrid. My car was recalled recently for software upgrade and you had a chance to warn me at least or offer a solution to your customer for a fee. Producing a car and not offering proactive post-care says a lot about how you treat your customers.

    1. Hello Jay,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are sincerely sorry to hear this. We would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team who would be happy to look into this. They can be contacted via this link here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Catlocs for Gen2 Auris Hybrid and Gen3 Prius Hybrid are now available from our centres. We can certainly understand that this does not improve your experience. Again, we are sincerely sorry to hear this regarding your Toyotas.

  5. Had my cat stolen on Saturday, off a 2017 Auris hybrid from IKEA Reading car park.

    Have to echo a previous comment, that it looks like the only preventative measures is not to buy Toyota in future, if they can’t secure the expensive cats on their vehicles.

    It really hurts to pay £300 excess to repair my car then a potential £200 to stop scumbag lowlifes from doing it again in future.

    1. Hi Aiden,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we’re extremely sorry to hear about your situation. Regarding this, we would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team who would be happy to discuss this further. You will be able to find their contact details via this link here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      We can also confirm a Catloc for Gen2 Auris Hybrid is now available to order from your nearest Toyota Centre. Unlike universal catalyst protection products, the device has been developed and tested to exacting technical standards that protects both front and rear Catalyst components against opportunist theft.

      Thanks.

      1. Thanks for your response.

        Spoke to my local dealer and have one on order, although my car is still in the insurers repair shop.

        Cost of the Catloc is £220 inc VAT, not fitted. Awaiting to hear how much it costs to fit.

      2. Got my car back today, nearly 3 months later.

        The Catloc is an aluminium plate that would be cut off in seconds by the same cordless angle grinder that was used to cut the steel pipe of the cat originally.

        Waste of money, only solution is to sell the car and avoid Toyota, because they have no solution. This problem is their doing, for having expensive parts located in a position too easily stolen.

  6. I’ve just had mine taken from a hospital carpark. 2018 Auris hybrid. It’s disgraceful – 2nd attempt in 6 months – I interrupted them the first time but not this time. Hospital security and police have been informed but I am a sitting duck for this to happen again. Am slightly regretting buying this car.

    1. Hi Leon,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are sorry to hear about your experience. We would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team who would be happy to look into this. They can be contacted via this link here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      While we appreciate this doesn’t change your situation, a Catloc for Gen2 Auris Hybrid is now available to order and has been designed and tested to be vehicle specific and to exacting technical standards to protect the Catalyst from opportunist theft.

      Thanks.

  7. Hi,

    Does a 1st gen Auris hybrid needs a catloc? I have 2010 Auris which was targeted today. Its not what they take, its what they leave behind!!! so true.

    thanks

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We don’t currently provide a Catloc for First Generation Auris, however we would recommend visiting your local Toyota Centre as they will be best equipped to assess the car in person and provide the best recommendation to protect your car.

      Thanks.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Thanks for getting in touch. As we moderate our blog, not all comments appear instantaneously and we apologise for not getting back to you sooner. Your recent comments have now been responded to.

      Thanks.

  8. What a waste of time to try and contact Toyota Customer Relations team. After several conversations I was told: ‘we developed a CATLOC’ and you can purchase it from the store, no other help provided’.
    The BOTTOM LINE: yes, you do have a CATLOC system
    The MAIN IDEEA: we need to buy it with money from our pockets.
    What a shame on Toyota!!!!
    I have asked Toyota’s representative: are the new cars going to be fit with a CATLOC? Answer: NO, everyone needs to buy it.
    So, GUYS STOP PLAYING US AROUND WITH THAT EXCUSE: WE DIDN’T KNOW IT.By now, you know everything very well, but you cannot be bothered to look out for your customers.
    Please, everyone looking to buy a new car: THINK TWICE BEFORE BUYING A TOYOTA

  9. What is it Toyota going to do over and above catloc deterrent to stop converters being stolen permanently? Also are they going to provide the catlocs or a more longer term measure for free to current Toyota owners? Though the crime is across all cars, Toyota is the prime target. I’ve had 3 converters stolen from 3 Toyotas just in last 6 months! 2 just last week. Has Toyota now become liability and we should stop buying Toyota?

    1. Hi,

      We’re really sorry to hear that you’ve been a victim of crime.

      Catalytic converters contain materials that can be valuable on the second hand market and, as such, the industry sees theft levels increase when the precious metals market is high.

      Toyota has developed cat locking devices for a number of vehicles within its car and light commercial ranges. These can act as a deterrent for opportunistic thieves. However, there is nothing Toyota, or any other manufacturer, can do to prevent brazen, determined thieves from using industrial power tools to remove catalytic converters, or the preventative measures developed to try and deter them.

      Once again, we’re very sorry that you have been targeted by thieves and would recommend contacting your insurance provider and the police force in your area for further advice. Thanks.

      1. I disagree, the vehicle does not provide sufficient measures to prevent or deter the crime in question. It is like having a car without a engine engine immobiliser steering lock. The design of the Toyota cars have not evolved quick enough to meet new security demands. They just need to not make the catalytic converters easily accessible, simples!!!

    2. Yes, I have two toyota’s in my household and I agree we should stop buying Toyota all together as complaining to manufacturer, dealer, police, etc. is going on deaf ears.

      1. Hi there,

        Thanks for getting in touch. We appreciate this is an incredibly sensitive issue and deeply apologise if you have been affected by it. We take every case extremely seriously and are currently working with UK Police to take further action against the issue of Catalytic converter theft. Please do get back in touch if you would like to discuss this further or feel free to contact our customer relations team whose details you can find via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

        Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *