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.

2,041 comments

  1. I had my catalytic converter stolen from my 57 prius. It was then repaired by my insurance company, and I immediately had a catloc put on by Jemca Bracknell. The catalytic converter was then stolen a 2nd time within 3 months. CCTV revealed it now took them 5 minutes (instead of 2) Some deterrent, utterly useless. I am getting rid of my Prius and Toyota will never get my custom again. Spread the word, DON’T get a catloc from Toyota!!

    1. Hi Curt,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are extremely sorry to hear about your situation. We appreciate this is an incredibly difficult issue and we have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case with our team in order to investigate this further.

      Thanks.

    2. Thanks Curt….my feelings exactly. Toyota have totally failed all their loyal customers and as soon as I get my replacement catalytic converter fitted, I will be exchanging it for anything but a Toyota.

      1. Hi Linda,

        Thanks for getting back in touch and we are deeply sorry you have been impacted by this situation. We are working hard to support all our customers through this difficult time and would appreciate the opportunity to discuss your case further with our customer relations team. We have emailed you regarding this.

        Thanks.

  2. I have had Prius models since 2007. I recently took ownership of Prius Generation 4. Can you tell me Toyota what has done to make Generation 4 Prius less of a target for thieves.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are still trying to react to this rise of theft in a proactive manner however, most vehicles have their Catalytic Converter in a similar place due to the nature of the part. The valuable metals and location of the part make it susceptible to thieves, however from a manufacturing perspective, this is not a design fault. Please be aware, this is not exclusive to Toyota vehicles and is a general theft issue across the UK within the industry.

      Thanks.

      1. This response doesn’t answer Chris’s question. ‘Can you tell me Toyota what has done to make Generation 4 Prius less of a target for thieves’?
        I’ve just had my cat converter stolen from my 2011 Prius. I thought I would be a lifelong Prius driver but I doubt it now.

      2. Hi Bernadette,

        Thanks for getting in touch. We are so sorry this has happened to you and we will email you directly to put you in touch with our customer relations team.

        Thanks.

      3. Toyota I think you will find that this is very much a Toyota issue I had mine stolen in a car park of around 2000 cars and 3 others were done the same day and they were all Toyota as well. This issue is going to seriously damage your reputation. And your generic answers are just pathetic

      4. Hi Chris,

        At Toyota we always aim to deal with cases on an individual basis.

        Toyota has seen a clear increase in Catalytic converter thefts in specific areas of the UK. However, this issue is industry wide and is not exclusive to Toyota. If you would like us to raise a customer relations case on you behalf, we will email you directly to gain further details in order to do so.

        Thanks.

  3. Hi Toyota,
    I like many other Toyota owners have had their catalytic converter stolen, I had my stolen while parked at Alton Towers. What is more concerning is that out of the many thousands of cars parked at Alton Towers, I know of 7 cars that were targeted and guess what Toyota they were all Toyota Hybrids, so please Toyota stop answering all comments with such a generic response where it’s happening to many other cars when clearly it’s not. When I go onto YouTube and type in stolen catalytic converter Toyota cars are all over the place. I am in the processes of getting my car repaired which I have been informed could be a few months due to stock. I will then be looking to get this Catlock installed at £250.
    Please Toyota with all the great minds you have see if there is a way of a better way. As insurance companies will soon stop paying out for these repairs.
    I own a Toyota as I like the cars very much, but it will soon be the case where owning a Toyota is not worth the financial risk.
    Regards

    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are extremely sorry to hear you have been a victim of this crime. We appreciate this is an incredibly difficult situation and are working as hard as we an to take actions against this whilst supporting our customers. We take each case incredibly seriously and have emailed you to discuss opening a customer relations case on your behalf, in order for us to help support you further.

      Thanks.

  4. Had the Catalytic Converter stolen from my 08 prius in March, ive been fearful of it happening again ever since and have constantly been looking for a new car since aswell.

    Reading the comments and toyotas replies on this blog just make me so angry. Toyota doesnt care that its customers have to live in fear that their cars will be targeted for an expensive theft.

    Toyota is making excuses, there is plenty they could do to intervene. Why arent other cars being targeted with the same enthusiasm as Toyota hybrids? How about not making the catalytic converter out of expensive materials?

    I will not be buying another Toyota in future and will make every effort to spread the publicity Toyota deserves from this.

    1. Hi Jack,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are extremely sorry to hear you have been a victim of this type of crime. We appreciate this is an incredibly difficult situation and we are working as hard as we can to support all our customers through this. As a result, we have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf in order to discuss your specific case further.

      Thanks.

  5. Surely, eventually the Insurance Companies will raise the premiums for these cars and that will effect sales.

    1. Agree, but not sure what it will take for Toyota to sit up and listen. They will also lose loyal customers…..

  6. Cat stolen for the second time 19th August 2019, Prius type 3, within sight of the local Police Station on both occasions and in a car park that has 24 hour security. Brother-in-law got his stolen too, right outside his workplace! There have been many more locally that I have been made aware of, seems Nottingham is a hotspot for these thefts and there seems to be no sign of it improving in the near future. Must get hold of one of these Catlocs whilst my car is awaiting the new parts, can you help?

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are very sorry to hear you and your Brother-in-law have been victims of this crime. We are working hard to support all our customers and have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf in order to investigate this further.

      Regarding your query, we would recommend visiting your nearest Toyota Centre as they are best placed to help you with this. However, it is important for us to note that due to the rise in demand for these parts, our supply chain has been unable to keep up with demand and therefore we may be unable to give a clear ETA. You can find your nearest Centre via this link: https://www.toyota.co.uk/forms/forms?tab=pane-dealer

      Thanks.

  7. My Catalytic convertor was taken by thiefs on 26/08/19. It’s Honda Jazz and two other Honda Jazz nearby were taken as well. This crime is going on from 2010 or 2011. Most targeted Brands are Toyota and Honda. My question is why they are not covering catalytic convertor up on new models in the first place like other car brands. What Toyota and Honda waiting for. Everyone should inform it to the manufacturers. It’s not hard to cover it up and make it difficult for thieves to reach it or manufacturers think it’s a good business to replace it.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry to hear you have been targeted by thieves and for the stress this may have caused. We appreciate this is a sensitive situation and have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf so we can discuss this further.

      At this time we can currently confirm that Catlocs are now available as optional extras for a range of our models deemed at risk and can be ordered via our dealers. However, thank you for sharing your comments and we will pass your feedback on to the relevant teams.

      Thanks.

  8. Someone needs to get this in a national newspaper. My cat was stolen end on June from my 2014 Auris and I’m still waiting for a replacement. And just today my neighboimurs Prius has just been robbed of its Cat converter. I was literally in the process of part exchanging for the new Corolla but clearly that’s not worth it. A nice article in The Sun might actually get this sorted.

    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us and we are extremely sorry to hear about your situation. We are also sorry for the delay in parts, this is due to the unforecasted rise in demand due to the rise in this type of crime. Please be aware, we are doing everything we can to ensure parts can be found as quickly as possible and working with our European counterparts to make sure this is resolved.

      We have emailed you regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf so that we can support your further through this difficult time.

      Thanks.

  9. I had my catalytic convertor stolen from my Toyota Auris hybrid, parked at a park and ride in Oxford. I bought the car in October 2018, can you please tell me why you didn’t offer a catloc at the sale of the vehicle? I was offered all sorts of extras, and would have happily paid for a catloc!! Shame on you Toyota. Can you please reassure me that all these vulnerable models are being fitted with catlocs presale, or at the very least, you are offering the fitting of them during the sales process?

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are deeply sorry to hear you have been a victim of this type of crime. Our first Catlocs have been available since January 2019 and we have developed them for Gen 2 Auris and Gen 3 Prius just recently. Unfortunately, this will be why one wasn’t offered to you in October 2018. Regarding your other query, Catlocs are available as optional extras and can be ordered via our dealers.

      We also apologise for the delay in responding to you and have emailed you to clarify this.

      Thanks.

  10. I had my catalytic converter stolen and have been in touch with my Toyota garage to have a cat lock fitted and they told me they only fit them to HiLux My Car is a 15 plate Auris Any idea who might fit a cat lock

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are deeply sorry to hear you have been impacted by this crime. Catloc devices are available for second generations Auris and can be ordered by our dealers. We have also emailed you in order for us to open a customer relations case on your behalf, if this is something you would be interested in.

      Thanks.

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