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 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?

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.

1,928 comments

  1. Mine 19 Reg Prius + been targeted in Backton (London) Asda car park couple of days ago around 4 O clock afternoon , very busy car park so many CCTV cameras all around. They are shameless thieves My recovery guy told me that this is 10th car he is towing to garage this week for same reason.
    This is really serious problem,
    I know someone who is in great trouble because he could not attend the court, He only park in Tesco Car park to grab the coffee, by the time he returned his CAT been stolen within 10 min.
    19 Reg Prius are more targeted around East London recently, Be aware of GREEN PASSAT , mine been targeted by them Asda CCTV capture the Number Plate start with AF04 , obviously fake.

    Is catloc is available for Prius Plus 2019 ? I cannot afford another theft.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry to hear about this situation. If you would like to discuss this further, we would recommend getting in touch with our Customer Relations team who will be able to investigate this further. You can find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      We don’t currently have a Catloc available for MY19 Prius Plus, however we will be able to raise this with the relevant teams and work with them to better monitor this issue.

      Thanks.

      1. Hi,
        I parked auris hybrid 2014 in rotherham hospital car park and catalytic converters has been stolen during day time. It has been frequent trouble in hospital car park. There is backlog and toyota dont know how long its take to get new part.

      2. Hi Faisal,

        We’re sorry to hear that you have been a victim of crime. Due to the rising market price of the precious metals found in catalytic converters, they have become a target for thieves. This increase in theft across the industry, not just with Toyota, means that we do have a shortage of parts. We are doing all we can to secure more catalytic converters for our customers. Thanks for your patience.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch. If you could please provide us with the reg or VIN we will be able to look into this further for you.

      Thanks.

  2. Please could you provide pictures of the Catloc device so that I can compare it to other similar devices on the market? I don’t want to pay more money for a flimsier device. Thanks

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. If you would like to private message us on Facebook we’d be more than happy to get one sent over. Apologies for any inconvenience, we are unable to post pictures in this section of the blog and unfortunately we can’t access your email to send one.

      Thanks.

  3. Hi

    Both my local dealers, Toyota Hills of Woodford and Romford aren’t aware of this service. I’ve been quoted £2k plus labour.

    Is there a way you can make them aware? I need a replacement ASAP as mine was stolen today 9th August.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry to hear about your situation and have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  4. Derby station car park…my Auris hybrid has had the cat stolen …. Dealer has no eta on replacement part … Says it may be months…will have to pay for hire car while i wait so even though insurance will cover the repair its going to be a significant expense…Toyota should be trying to inform its customers to warn them …

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry to hear about your situation and have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf so that we can investigate this further.

      Thanks.

      1. Toyota keep saying open customer relations case but for what? Just to respond back with we’re sorry and cannot be held responsible for criminal activity? Toyota is doing nothing at the moment from my experience but this cannot continue in my opinion and we customers continue to buy & drive Toyota without Toyota taking proactive steps. Btw cat lock you’re providing for £250 is doing much as the thieves are cutting those too. It’s for toyota to think hard and figure lasting solution to this problem which has become far too common.

      2. Yes I would luv to open a customer relations case and the dealers were serposed to ring me on a Thursdays but still waiting for a phone call just about fed up with Toyota I was serposed to pick it up on the 23rd of August never had any problems with my other car’s from mobility i would be pleased if you could get any information form them thanks yery much R Gladman

  5. Is the temporary solution to the shortage of replacement genuine converters – to buy up stocks of 3rd Party Catalytic Converters and fit them as “loan” parts pending deliveries of genuine ones?

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch and for this feedback. We will pass this along to our parts team who are closely monitoring the situation at this time.

      Thanks.

  6. Yes I got intouch with you about my new chr auto it was orderd on the 23rd of May for delivery 23rd of August but have been now that it is the 6th off October what is happening to Toyota and it’s on mobility so they will be in trouble with mobility I just won’t to no y . I get a phone call from the person every week for an up date which it’s the same as last week please can you advise me please

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re sorry to hear you are still experiencing issues with your C-HR order and have emailed you requesting additional details so we can help investigate this further.

      Thanks.

      1. Hi Nasir,

        Toyota does not currently offer a Catloc for the 1st generation Prius. Currently, Catlocs are available for our light commercial vehicles, 2nd and 2rd generation Prius as well as the 2nd generation Auris. We are constantly evaluating whether Catlocs need to be developed for other vehicles.

        If you’d like a Catloc for your vehicle now, you can buy one from an aftermarket supplier.

        Thanks.

  7. Hi, I really think Toyota should consider a coordinated effort with the UK police forces and local councils in charge of public parking. Typical patterns are arising e.g. targeting of unattended Auris and Prius models in public parking like P & R …Therefore can a “sting” operation be mounted to catch the thieves?
    Another point: as this is actually is a design vulnerability that the thieves are targeting I strongly believe Toyota need to recall affected models and rectify by fitting catloc devices.
    Thanks, from an Auris owner that has been through the pain and expense …

    1. Hi Rico,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are deeply sorry to hear about your situation. We appreciate this is a very sensitive issue and would recommend contacting our customer relations team who can look into this further for you. You will be able to find their contact details via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/contact-us/

      Regarding your other queries, we are currently working with UK Police to closely monitor the situation in order to take proactive action, and can confirm our model specific Catlocs are included in the International Security Register, approved by UK police and are accredited by Thatcham Research, the official research centre for the motor insurance industry.

      Once again, we are extremely sorry you have experienced this situation.

      Thanks.

    2. Totally agree…..mine (67 plate Auris) was stolen from Bedford Hospital car park on the day my father died in Critical Care. 6 (SIX) weeks later, and Steven Eagell Toyota still can’t give me a date the replacement will be available. Also it is £1700……much higher than this blog suggests.

      1. Hi Linda,

        We’re really sorry that you were targeted by thieves, especially during such a difficult time. Due to the amount of cat thefts, we are experiencing a shortage of replacement parts, but we are working as hard as we can to secure extra supply for our customers. The price quoted in this blog post is for a replacement catalytic converter and Catloc. However, additional parts may be required, depending on the amount of damage caused by the criminals during the theft. Thanks.

      2. Thank you for acknowledging the problem, but my challenge back to you is what are Toyota proactively to find a resolution? Many people have not had the use of their car for weeks or even months, because of the delay in getting the replacement part. 6 weeks on, and I was told today by Toyota that it could still be ‘weeks’. Like many others, it is hugely frustrating……

        I also don’t understand why owners should have to pay for a Catloc….surely Toyota should be putting a plan together to recall and fit Catlocs themselves, as it must have been a design fault in the beginning?

        Sadly, after owning and being very happy with 3 Toyota Hybrids from new, I will not be buying one again – and would urge others to think very carefully before doing so.

      3. Hi Linda,

        Thanks for getting back in touch. We are extremely sorry about the delay in replacement parts; this is down to the increased demand caused by the increase in thefts.

        We aim to support our customers as much as possible through this situation and while we appreciate this doesn’t change your situation, we can confirm we are currently working with UK Police to closely monitor these issues. We are also continuing to look into developing Catlocs for all our vehicles deemed at risk.

        Once again, we a deeply sorry you have been the victim of this crime and for the difficulty this must have caused.

        Thanks.

      4. Agree
        I am on my second Auris. Very happy with the car but after the cat was stolen this week, and reading all these customer comments I doubt that I will buy another Toyota again.

  8. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for getting back in touch. We have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf. For us to do this we will need confirmation of a few details, as mentioned in the email.

    Thanks.

  9. My catalytic converter from my gen 3 Prius was stolen 2 weeks ago in SE London. Can’t get a replacement until mid September. Not happy with this situation. Whats the point if it will just happen again? To me it looks like owning a Toyota will no longer be viable as they are vulnerable and this can’t / won’t be resolved by Toyota. Insurance will not cover eventually. Why are these cars and not other cars being targeted? A catloc is obviously just a waste of money if Toyota will not guarantee against theft.

    1. Hi John,

      We are very sorry to hear that you have been a victim of crime. Unfortunately, due to the amount of thefts, there is a shortage of replacement catalytic converters, but we are doing all we can to secure additional stock for our customers. As you know, 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 heavy duty 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.

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