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.

1,574 comments

  1. Hi guys be careful they stolen cat converter from my toyota auris 2019 in leeds ls6 march 2021 they moving about in x5 bmw gray its very hard for me and other taxi driver to get wage especially with covd19 and now i have to access

    1. Hi Masaud,
      Thanks for your comment. We’re really sorry to hear about this.
      The first step would be to report this crime to the Police if you haven’t already.
      Your nearest Toyota Centre will be able to replace the part and advise you on theft deterrent options.
      Once again, we’re truly sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by these brazen thieves.
      Thanks.

      1. I was contemplating purchasing a new RAV4 but am put off by the amount of cat thefts. Recently they have invented a product called uncuttable steel, obviously it can be cut eventually but with a lot more time and trouble, surely a catloc made from that with a vibration sensor attached as a standard factory fitment would cure a lot of these thefts, if Toyota were serious about this problem.

    2. Same area here. Thanks
      Not a taxi driver however, but it’s really awful that we’re getting targeted and then Toyota want £600 for a catloc when they’re like £40 on eBay.

  2. Why are Toyota cars more than twice as likely to have the catalytic converter stolen than the Honda. Why are Japanese cars the easiest target for the criminals. The police have plenty to do without you adding to their burden.

    I have a Yaris 2010 model. How much does a catloc cost for this model and how much does it cost to fit. If it’s too costly do you supply the part/s to be fitted by my local trusted garage. Is this modification approved by insurance companies or do I have to get their permission.

    This shows the number of thefts from each car manufacturer’s cars in a four year period. The number of thefts have sky rocketed this past year. There must be something wrong with the design if the cats can be stolen so easily from Toyota cars.
    https://www.met.police.uk/cy-GB/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/metropolitan-police/disclosure_2019/november_2019/information-rights-unit—thefts-of-catalytic-converters-from-january-2015-to-october-2019

    1. Hi Pat,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Organised criminal gangs are using high-grade power tools to remove the catalyst, so these are in reality as easy to remove from any vehicle. The design is not so relevant.
      As with any crime, it should be reported to the Police. This is a criminal issue, and we working with various agencies, including the Police, to try to put a stop to it.
      Criminals seem to be targeting Prius and Auris from our range, but we would recommend speaking to your nearest Toyota Centre to discuss options and costs that would be best for your vehicle.
      Thanks.

      1. I’ll be taking delivery of a new Corolla Saloon in a few days time after my previous car was written off after having the cat converter stolen, As Toyota are aware of the problem and, in your own words cat converters are ‘easy to remove’ shouldn’t protection be offered free of charge and/or fitted as standard? If you charge for fitting a Catloc are you not profiting from crime?

      2. Hi Douglas,
        Thanks for getting in touch. We’re really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
        Over time, we have reduced the precious metal content of our newer hybrids, some by up to 84%. However, any car containing a catalytic converter is in theory at risk of theft, and determined criminals wielding power tools can be very difficult to completely protect against.
        Theft deterrent devices such as CatLocs are supplied at zero profit to Toyota UK. You can contact your local centre to discuss such options for your vehicle.
        Thanks.

      3. If Toyota was truly looking out for it’s customers, then the catloc would be there as soon as it’s sold, and it’d be welded too. Making a profit from potential crime, and saying it’s “non profit” doesn’t scream “Looking out for customers” here.

        Please take this criticism on board, at least to someone who has some form of managerial position within Toyota. Yes, thieves can also go through a catloc, but the fact that it’s not there from day one is entirely on Toyota.

      4. Do the replacement parts prices vary per area and do you charge for fitting them.

        For a Yaris, what is the estimated cost of replacing a catalytic converter and what is the estimated price of fitting a cat loc.

        Have you carried out tests on the anti theft devices and can you say how much longer a well equipped thief would take to remove the catalytic converter on a Yaris with the devices fitted. Are they worth what they cost or are we wasting more money by fitting them.

      5. Hi Pat,

        Thanks for your questions. Pricing can vary depending on what vehicle you have. We recommend contacting your nearest centre for a quote for your exact vehicle.

        Regarding the Catloc, we developed it specifically for our vehicles and of course, was tested. However, as explained in this blog post, they can make theft more difficult, but determined criminal gangs using high-powered cutting tools are very hard to stop. A Catloc makes it harder to steal a catalytic converter, slowing thieves down and acting as a deterrent but doesn’t make the part ‘unstealable’.

        Thanks

  3. I am thinking of buying a RAV4 but am concerned about catalytic converter theft as I will have to park the vehicle on my residential street. Is this model as susceptible as the Prius and Auris? If so is there a catloc available for the Rav 4?

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear that you are considering the RAV4.
      Criminals seem to be targeting older hybrids due to the greater amount of precious metals they contain, but any vehicle containing a catalytic converter is in theory at risk of theft.
      We have reduced the precious metal content of our newer hybrids by up to 84%, making these less attractive to criminals.
      There isn’t a CatLoc available for the RAV4, but your nearest Toyota Centre will be able to advise you on other theft deterrent options available.
      Thanks.

    1. Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for your patience whilst we’ve checked this out with our wider team.
      We do not have a Catloc currently available for the new Hilux as this vehicle is not currently classified as high risk.
      However, ISR Marking kits are available, and this can be discussed further with your nearest Toyota Centre.
      Thanks.

  4. I read recently that Toyota has now undertaken a national catalytic converter MARKING PROGRAMME.

    Is this available only when a replacement cat is fitted (e.g. after theft of the original) or on any cat, any age?

    Also what is the cost, if any?

    1. Hi Bruce, thanks for your comment.

      We are currently liaising with local authorities and this is something that we are looking into but we have no further information at this time.

      Thanks.

  5. I am in total shock and disbelief finding out that my cat has been stolen right in front of my house last night. Can’t believe that Toyota is such an easy target for the thief compare to any other car markers. On top of that I don’t know how much will it cost to get it done? Most probably Toyota will rip my off as friends told me. Can’t explain my feelings right now.

    1. Hi Khan,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. Technically any vehicle fitted with a catalytic converter is at risk of theft. Some of our previous models are fitted with higher levels of precious metals, the active materials in a catalytic converter. This was done to make the cars cleaner. Recently the value of these materials has risen dramatically, which is something we could not have foreseen. Your nearest Toyota centre is best placed to advise you on part replacements as well as theft deterrent devices that may be available for you vehicle.

      Thanks

  6. Do any models of the Toyta Auris have the cat converter in the engine block within all the mechanisms and pipes etc as opposed to underneath?. Is the a cat lock with spinning metal tubes in a pipe so things lie angle grinders just spin the inner rods?

    Is it possible to wire the converted so anyone trying to remove it gets electrocuted enough to mess them up but not seriously harm them or rid them with things like thunder flashes, fares and smoke grenades, or the equivalent of a paint grenade only full of super strength chilli essence so a form or pepper spray bomb?

    1. Hi Chris,

      All Auris models, like many other vehicles, have the catalytic converter underneath the car. The Toyota Catloc is a plate type deterrent. In terms of other theft deterrent devices, we can’t advise or recommend those that you mentioned.

      Thanks

  7. Hi, My 2016 Auris Hybrid converter was stolen in the last week. Will its new replacement still have the same precious metal content or will it contain different materials to make it less attractive to thieves.

    1. Hi Peter,

      Sorry about that. A genuine Toyota replacement part will be identical to the one that was already fitted to your vehicle.

      Thanks

  8. I have recently bought an 2018 petrol Auris. Is this less susceptible to cat theft than a hybrid or should I still consider getting a lock fitted?

    1. Hi Ian,

      We can’t say how much attention criminals pay to the badges on the car, sorry. If you are worried about your catalytic converter being stolen, please contact your nearest Toyota centre.

      Thanks

  9. I have just had a second catalytic converter stolen from my 2019 Auris in 6 weeks. My insurer will not cover me to park my vehicle anywhere than outside my house, where I cannot protect it. The insurance excess is now averaging approx half of my monthly income. This is not sustainable. I plans to change my insurance to one that allows me to effectively ‘hide’ the car away from my home address whilst I sell it. I have made formal complaints to my insurer and Toyota and I’ve written to my MP and the Minister responsible for insurance matters.

    1. Hello John Sorry to read your post. We had ours taken a couple of weeks ago. The insurance only replace like for like even though I offered to pay extra . So I took my auris estate to my local independent garage , where I got them to fit a shield plate cost £30 for a 2 mil thick one plus fitting cost. 1 hours work. Plus some extra security on the bolt heads Also we have a picture of the fitted plate on the dash.

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