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. Hi Sharon,

      Auris and Prius are targets for criminals, but techincally, any vehicle fitted with a catalytic converter is at risk. We do now offer a Catloc for this model though, so please contact your nearest Toyota centre if you would like to have it fitted.

      Thanks

  1. I had my catalytic converter stolen from my MK2 Prius in February 2021, it took them 2 minutes as recorded on my in car camera, which shows how poor your security of our purchase is. I have had to fit an aftermarket cat and Lambada sensor at a cost of £290 as Toyota Derby’s quote of £1000 for the cat alone was 4 times the price of an after market one and you say that your doing it at cost!. My son who is handy at crafting stuff has designed and fitted a plate that covers the whole cat the cost of making the plate and fitting security bolts and rivets is well under £30. This if done by a company the size of Toyota and fitted to all on the production line would add around £15 to £20 on the price of the car. Don’t you think it would be prudent to consider this being done and to recall all cars that you have sold and offer the owners the chance of at least protecting their investment in your products.

    1. Hi David,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle was targeted by thieves. Organised criminal gangs using power tools are very difficult stop, but we are working with the police and other agencies to put a stop to it. Approved Toyota parts may be more expensive, but that is down to the quality of the part itself. A cheaper version is likely to be much less effective at reducing emissions and may not have the same longevity. Production of the MK2 Prius ended in 2009 and there was no way we could have envisaged that the value of the materials inside the catalytic converter would have risen so dramatically in the last few years. We have developed a range of theft deterrent devices, and over recent years, we have reduced the precious metal content of the cataltytic converter by up to 84% in some cases. As you know, Toyota does announce recalls, but these are for safety related reasons, not for criminals reasons. Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle was targeted and we are glad you are back on the road again.

      Thanks

  2. Further to my post of 6th March, my question was more about why the associated risk and mitigating security enhancements were not brought to my attention by a Toyota main dealer when selling me the car, a year after you posted the article highlighting both the risk and mitigations?
    Do you not think this should have been raised at the point of sale? I have been back to the dealer who advise that they have ‘ no obligation’ to discuss this and I wondered if this was a view shared by Toyota UK?

  3. Avoid to buy Prius and Auris,I had catlock and they manage to take the catalytic converter .we put the message in local newspaper so people to know about.toyota dealer will never mention . they’re losing a lot of customers in South Yorkshire special taxi drivers,

  4. If Toyota are unwilling to add a catloc on new vehicles (at our expense) then I would question their customer focus.
    How are dealerships dealing with this as they have lots of used / new vehicles on forecourts waiting to be picked off by thieves?

  5. Shame on you, Toyota.
    I read the article and read all the comments, I am surprised by Toyota’s naive and ignorant responses to all the comments.
    I feel Toyota was intending to make fun of their customers and intentionally losing her reputation. The article is really funny.
    My wife and I bought the car in late December 2020, this part was stolen from our car last week in Nottingham, which means after about 3 months of buying the car. In fact, we feel very regretful and disappointed about owning a Toyota car.
    All these talks are useless And a waste of time. We want a serious solution, otherwise, we will have to return the car or take legal measures against Toyota and its agent in Nottingham. Shame on you, Toyota

    1. Hi Sam,
      Thanks for your comment. We’re really sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this awful crime.
      We are working to support customers that have been affected by these brazen thieves and have produced theft deterrent devices for vehicles considered to be most at risk, but the perpetrators are using high-grade power tools to remove the catalytic converters and are therefore very difficult to completely protect against.
      Should you wish to discuss your specific situation in further detail, our Customer Relations team are best placed to offer further advice and support.
      They can be reached here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre/email-us
      Once again, we are sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by these criminals.
      Thanks.

  6. I have a Toyota Auris 2014, that I have only had for two months when the catalytic converters was stolen from the hospital car park where I work.

    I’m a new driver and I wanted a Yaris but the Auris was cheaper than the Yaris (I think it’s obvious why now).
    Nottingham Toyota Inchcape was unhelpful and unsupportive to us. Even the dealer didn’t mention or raised this point on the day we bought it. Also, before the incident, we found the battery was faulty after a month and a half of having it and Toyota Inchcapw asked us to pay for that!

    I’m just wondering why Toyota doesn’t have a better protection system to these cars? At least, fit in an alarm system, so whoever, tries to touch the car it would alarm.
    I’m extremely unhappy and unsatisfactory with the service.
    Also I genuinely would like to return the car! Because I can’t take any more stress. I already have a stressful job and now I’m always stressed about the car and experiencing anxiety that the incident will happen again, I can’t sleep properly or feel safe to have it.
    My insurance has increased and will keep increasing every time that this happens and its not even my fault!!!

    1. Hi Doaa,
      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We’re so sorry to hear that you’ve been affected by this awful crime and that you are unhappy with the service you have received from your Toyota Centre.
      The Auris was developed many years ago, and there is no way that we could have foreseen the increase in price of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converter.
      Our newer hybrids have reduced levels of these precious metals – up to 84% reduced – and we have developed theft deterrents such as CatLocs for our older vehicles considered to be most at risk, but determined criminals with power tools are very difficult to completely protect against.
      If you would like to discuss your specific situation in further detail, our Customer Relations team are best placed to do so with you.
      They can be contacted here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre/email-us
      Once again, we are truly sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by these brazen thieves.
      Thanks.

  7. We already have an Auris and the Cat was stolen. It was a nightmare to replace it and we are planning to buy a new Toyota Corolla. Is the Corolla safer? The dealer is asking if we are interested in paying £300 for a CATLOC.

    1. Hi Antonio,
      Thanks for your comment.
      As the Corolla is one of our newer hybrids, it benefits from a reduced level of precious metals in its catalytic converter.
      However, any car containing a catalytic converter is in theory at risk of theft.
      Thanks.

  8. Hi, Just a quick question, was the aftermarket catalytic converter installed on my car, which the garage said is approved by insurance companies, certified and accepted by Toyota UK? Thanks

    1. Hi Mark,
      It sounds like you’ve had a non-genuine Toyota part fitted to your vehicle, but it is impossible for us to know without details of your vehicle, the part that you’ve had fitted or the garage that fitted it.
      If your vehicle is still in the warranty period, and experiences an issue that is caused by an aftermarket part, you may not be able to make a warranty claim.
      However, if your vehicle is outside of the warranty period, it doesn’t matter what part you get fitted.
      Thanks.

  9. I have a RAV4 Hybrid (2017) – is it a high risk? We have had a spate of thefts in our local area and the police are advising residents with Hondas or Toyotas to park their cars against walls to make theft more difficult. Is the converter on a RAV 4 nearer the front or back of the car?

    1. Hi Helen,
      Thanks for contacting us.
      Whilst RAV4 vehicles have not been consistently targeted by thieves, any vehicle with a catalytic converter is in theory at risk of theft.
      The catalytic converter is in the middle.
      Thanks.

      1. Thank you for the prompt reply. Hopfully our local thieves will see the RAV as a bit too heavy to jack up; I have also put it as close as I can to a wall and fence down the side.
        We normally use my RAV to protect my Husband’s Porche on the driveway; he wasn’t impressed when I asked him to swap round this evening. Oops!

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