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.

1,588 comments

  1. I have a 67 hybrid Yaris .I park on my own drive so I’ve built a ramp made from thick paving slabs .I simply cemented them in 2 lines of 4 , making it impossible to get a jack under the car between the wheel centres .There is also an alarm on Amazon for £18 .simply put it in the engine bay .Any movement of the car and it goes off remote controlled .We have to make it hard for these criminals .

    1. Hi Micheal. I have a generation 2 Prius and am very worried about being victim of this crime. I am trying to make it as difficult as I can for these thieves. Please can you tell me which alarm you have from Amazon? Is it tilt sensitive? Thanks.

  2. Seems to me that these theives like using grinders and metal saws to cut through the pipes. This creates lots of sparks right?

    How about surrounding the cat pipes with tubes of petrol, possibly mixed with something to make it sticky, not enough to burn long enough to do rea damage to the car, but given the thief should be right under the car when doing this, face under Neath, cutting pipes that slash sticky petrol on their face and upper body with all those sparks should rather rapidly end said theft attempt…

    You can put warning lables to avoid liability or somethgin else very unpleasnt

  3. Just had my cc stolen from my Prius, now have to pay for new converter and have catloc fitted. I know will be targeted again matter of time I have absolutely no confidence in catloc. Regret buying Toyota ……..

    1. Hi Wasim, thanks for your comment.

      We’re sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this crime. Your local Toyota Centre will be able to help with sourcing both replacement parts and deterrents. Thanks.

      1. Unfortunately by sourcing you probably mean paying a £1400 or at least the insurance excess. I am disappointed that having my car recently serviced Toyota didn’t warn me and I also got my catalytic converter stolen.

      2. Hi Filipe,
        Thanks for your comment. We’re sorry to hear this.
        Our Catlocs and replacement catalytic converter parts are currently priced as cheaply as possible, and we are making no profit from these parts.
        We are also working closely with insurers to try and minimise the impact on customers.
        If you would like to make a formal complaint, you can do so with our Customer Relations team here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre/email-us.
        Thanks.

  4. I have always owned toyota car and have got a auris hybrid this is the second auris hybrid which has had its catalytic converter stolen 3 weeks ago still waiting for a new part to come in.
    There days before it was stolen I bought a 2017 yaris hybrid as we needed 2 cars i rang the shop where I bought it and ask about a catloc for it and they wanted £250 for it i told them I only bought it three days ago and was willing to go half with them but they said no very poor from toyota as soon as the auris is fix I will sell it and I am thinking of selling the yaris to and won’t be buy another toyota until they get there act together.
    The should be putting catloc on all there cars new or secondhand before they sell them to the public.

    1. Hi Les, thanks for your comment.

      We’re sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this crime. Our Catlocs and replacement catalytic converter parts are currently priced as cheaply as possible, we are making no profit from these parts.
      We completely understand your frustration, but please know that we are actively working with local authorities and others in the automotive industry on this. Thanks

  5. Had my CC stolen from my auris today. Really worried about it happening again. Can’t afford to go through this again. I like Toyota, but wish they could come up with a better solution that the catlock.

    1. Hi John,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. We have developed the Catloc and some other theft deterrent devices, but unfortunately, it is very difficult to completely stop brazen and determined thieves who use power tools to take what they want. We have been working with the Police, and other agencies for some time to try and get to the root cause of this crime. Again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted and hope you are back on the road soon.

      Thanks

  6. I am looking to purchase a Toyota Auris 1.2 petrol not hybrid as my neighbour unfortunately had the CC stolen twice from the same car so had to get rid of it. Is purchasing Auris petrol a safer buy?

    1. Hi Angie,
      Thanks for getting in touch with us. It’s great to hear that you’re considering an Auris!
      Whilst criminals seem to have been targeting older hybrids due to the higher amount of precious metals contained within their catalytic converters, technically any vehicle containing a catalytic converter is at risk of theft.
      Thanks.

    1. Hi Andrew.
      Yes I’ve signed and also copied in my County Counciler and Parish Council Chair.
      To all victims of this problem please sign urgently.

  7. Terrible problem. 67 plate Toyota Auris Hybrid. we’ve had our cat stolen twice now within 4 months, Toyota have to do something and should provide something as fettered, safety and protection for its cars and customers otherwise we are thinking of not owning a toyota as a result. its just too much headache and risky and highly concerning and worrying. Insurances going up, insurance excesses going up, concerns on catalytic converter being stolen again and again too too much unnecessary and unrequired costs,stress and headache. TOYOTA MUST DO SOMETHING. URGENTLY. We’ve had our cat stolen Nov 2020 and now March 2021 we’ve had enough

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. We’re really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this horrible crime.
      This is a criminal issue, and we working with various agencies, including the Police, to try to put a stop to it.
      We have engaged with the Home Office, Local MPs, the Met Police and the Assistant Constable of Cheshire Police to raise the crime’s profile and identify legislation issues where appropriate.
      Over time, we have developed CatLocs, tilt alarms, bolt caps and component etching to help protect customers from further attacks, although criminals with high-grade power tools are difficult to stop.
      There is a CatLoc available for the Auris, and this can be purchased through your nearest Toyota Centre.
      Once again, we are truly sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by these brazen criminals, and we hope that you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  8. My catalytic converter was stolen from hospital car park and unfortunately it was not on the visibilty range of CCTV .

    1. Hi,

      We are very sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. Please contact your nearest centre so that your vehicle can be repaired. They’ll also be able to take you through some theft deterrent devices.

      We hope you are back on the road ASAP.

      Thanks

  9. Toyota Auris 2016, got my catalytic converter stolen on 16/4 on the street outside my house. Worst ever choice that I bought a Toyota. Toyota should have send out letters to all Prius and Auris’s customer about this issue and offer something to prevent. No more Toyota in my future list.

    1. Hi Daphne,

      Sorry to hear your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. We contacted customers where possible and asked centres to inform their customers. We also developed theft prevention devices and supply them at cost price. Please contact your nearest centre to get your vehicle repaired. They’ll be able to advice on theft prevention devices available for your vehicle.

      Sorry again the thieves targeted your vehicle and we hope you’re back on the road soon.

      Thanks

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