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.

1,682 comments

  1. Had my CC stolen a few days ago from my 2014 gen 2 Auris. However I am due to take delivery of a 2021 Corolla in about 3 weeks time. My question is, have Toyota made it more difficult to steal the CC from this car? Have there been many instances of CC thefts from the 2021 MY Corolla?

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment, and congratulations on your new Corolla!
      We have reduced the precious metal content of our newer hybrids by up to 84%, making these less attractive to criminals.
      CatLocs are also only produced for vehicles that are repeatedly targeted by thieves, and there is not one available for the new Corolla.
      We are unfortunately unable to provide any details in regard to your last question as this is not data that we hold. The Police may be best placed to answer this question.
      Thanks.

  2. We had our cc stolen from Auris 2016 on a Asda car park at 14.30 last Sunday. It’s absolutely disgusting that you are not protecting your customers from such a terrible crime. When I rang the Toyota service they told me I have to pay £250 for a cat lock, its a proper rip of. After paying excess and increased insurance premium I can’t afford for another such a high spending. Now all I want to is sell this car and change for different brand, which is a shame as we use Toyota for last 10 years. The cat locks should be for free as a part of warranty, otherwise you will loose customers. Last Friday we looked at new Corolla but if they comes without any CC protection we will need change the dealer I’m afraid.

    1. Hi Katarzyna,
      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re so sorry to hear that you have been affected by this awful crime.
      This is a criminal issue and, as always, this should be reported to the Police.
      We have developed and are supplying theft deterrent devices at zero profit such as CatLocs, tilt alarms, bolt caps and component etching to protect consumers from further attacks. We are also working with Insurers to minimise the impact on consumers. However, it is very difficult to completely stop brazen and determined thieves who use power tools to take what they want, and any car containing a catalytic converter is in theory at risk of theft.
      We have reduced the quantity of precious metals by up to 84% in catalytic converter design over time, making our newer models less attractive to thieves.
      Once again, we are so sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves, and we hope you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  3. I have a 65 plate auris. Enquired at my local dealer about a tilt sensor only to be told they don’t make them as auris isn’t a car in production. Surely this cannot be true??

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We have checked with our Accessories team, and the below parts should be available for the 65 plate Auris:
      PW62500101 Tilt Sensor Alarm System Base Kit.
      PW62500201 Tilt Sensor Alarm System Siren Kit.
      Thanks.

  4. I have a 2016 Yaris hybrid do you have anything for my car to stop thieves taking my catalytic converter ?

    1. Hi Marsha,
      Thanks for getting in touch with us.
      There is a CatLoc available for the Yaris, as well as an ISR Marking kit and bolt caps.
      We would recommend contacting your nearest Toyota Centre to get one ordered and discuss the other theft deterrent options.
      Thanks.

      1. Can you elaborate on the costs involved in fitting a CatLock for the Yaris and also costs for marking kit?

      2. Hi Bob,
        Thanks for your comment.
        Your nearest Toyota Centre will be best placed to advise upon costs, so we would recommend contacting them for further information.
        Thanks.

  5. Hi I have just bought a 67 plate auris hybrid. I’m due to take delivery next week. But reading about the thefts making me change my mind. What can I do to protect my auris? Is it harder on auris to steal the catalyst converter? Thank you

    1. Hi Rahul,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Second-generation Auris Hybrids (2012-2018) have been particular targets for thieves, along with second and third-generation Prius models.
      We have produced CatLocs, bolt caps, component etching and tilt sensors for this model, all of which can be ordered through your nearest Toyota Centre, but determined criminals with high-grade power tools can be very hard to completely protect against.
      Thanks.

  6. Woken up at 5:20 yesterday by lowlife cutting the CC off my 2007 Lexus RX, a terrifying experience! Given the resources that Toyota have you don’t seem to be supporting your loyal customers very well. Your reputation is at risk!

    1. Hi Tony,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are very sorry to hear your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. Determined, brazen thieves are very hard to stop, especially when they use power tools to take what they want. Please contact your nearest Lexus centre so they can help get you back on the road as soon as possible.

      Thanks

  7. I have an Avensis mk 1 1999.. Does anyone know how susceptible my car is to having it’s Converter stolen??And apart from storing it in a garage, what preventative measures can I take to protect it??

    1. Hi Rob,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Technically any car fitted with a catalytic converter is at risk of theft, however criminals are particularly targeting Auris and Prius hybrid models due to the increased levels of precious metals within the catalytic converter.

      Thanks

  8. I have recently purchased from a Toyota dealer a 2nd hand August 2019 Corolla self-charging hybrid. Are the Corollas less likely to have their catalytic convertors stolen?

    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comment.
      In theory, any car containing a catalytic converter is at risk of theft due to the precious metals they contain. However, thieves seem to be targeting Auris and Prius hybrid models as these contain higher levels of precious metals.
      There is a CatLoc available for the 1.8l Corolla Hybrid, and this can be purchased through your nearest Toyota Centre. However, there is not one available for the 2.0l derivative.
      Thanks.

    1. Hi Mrs Rolt,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Could you please provide us with your reg? We can then look into this for you.
      Thanks.

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