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.

1,908 comments

  1. Hi, after reading these comments I am thinking is my 2013 Yaris Hybrid an usual target of the catalytic converter theft too. I wish to justify the cost of installing catloc or tilt sensor on this old Yaris Hybrid and would appreciate any comments please:
    1. Is there a catloc available for 2013 Yaris Hybrid?
    2. If i install a tilt sensor, is it very sensitive to car parking on the pavement kerb, or driving over high ramps?
    3. Difficult question – is Yaris Hybrid 2013 a common target of theft?

    Many thanks for reading and perhaps replying to this post?

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Firstly, the only information we have regarding CATLOC Availability on the Yaris refers to models produced after 2014, which a CATLOC is available for.
      We would recommend checking with your nearest Toyota Centre if it can be fitted to your vehicle.
      Secondly, a Tilt Sensor is not available to be fitted on a Yaris, and we would not recommend modifying away from the manufacturer’s specification.
      Thirdly, any vehicle fitted with a catalytic converter is technically at risk of theft. All catalytic converters contain precious metals that can be attractive to thieves, regardless of manufacturer or age.
      However, our records indicate that the Yaris is a low risk vehicle for catalytic converter theft.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Thanks.

  2. Hi Toyota, what is the price to fit catloc to my 18 plate auris estate? The reason I am asking is that it is almost impossible to find someone from dealership on the phone to ask about this inquiry.

  3. Hello,
    Toyota contacted me and recommended I place a Catloc on my catalytic convertor as there had been a surge in thefts during the past year (in the entire country) so as this ‘anti-theft’ recommendation came from the manufacturer. I had one installed at a Toyota garage. Since having this placed on my vehicle (total cost of £250 which I paid for), I have had to inform my insurance company. My insurance premium has gone up by almost a quarter and I can confirm it is for having this ‘anti-theft’ device fitted! After reading this and seeing that the AA is; ‘working alongside the Police and Toyota’ I am angry that they have upped my premium for something that should either keep it the same or reduce the cost of it. Therefore please can you amend your ‘recommendation’ to add a caveat to ‘check with your insurance company before fitting as you may incur a heavy penalty for doing this.’ Thank you!

  4. Hello Toyota
    I have Prius Plus 2019 and considering booking it in for a Smartwater tag to the Catalytic converter. Will you provide stickers to deter would-be thieves that the cat is tagged?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Faz,
      This is something we currently do not offer.
      We would recommend discussing this with your Toyota Centre to see what options are available.
      Thanks.

  5. Hi, could you tell me if the new CHR is at high risk of being targeted for its catalytic converter and whether there is catlock available for this model ?
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Helen,
      Thanks for your comment.
      The C-HR is classed as a low risk vehicle. However, a CATLOC is still available.
      Please contact your nearest Toyota Centre to get this fitted.
      Thanks.

  6. Hi we havd a toyota rav hybrid awd and a toyota yaris hybrid cros awd ordered for January 2022. We are worried about the catalytic converter situation. Are our cars at high risk of catalytic convertor theft?

    1. Hi Joyce,
      Congratulations on your RAV4 and Yaris, thank you for choosing Toyota.
      Both of these vehicles are classed as low risk of catalytic converter theft.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Thanks.

  7. Could you tell me the risk level of catalytic converter theft from :
    GT86 and Yaris Icon 1.33M, both being 2014 year models.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Colin,
      Thanks for your comment.
      The Yaris is considered a low risk vehicle of catalytic converter theft.
      Furthermore, we unfortunately do not have any information regarding the risk level of the GT86.
      However, any vehicle fitted with a catalytic converter is technically at risk of theft.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Thanks.

    1. Hi Nicola,
      Your RAV4 is classed as a low risk vehicle.
      However, Smartwater Marking is still available for your vehicle.
      This is an invisible yet traceable marking which helps trace stolen catalytic converters.
      This is available free of charge from your nearest Toyota centre.
      Thanks.

  8. I live in Gothenburg Sweden and my catalytic converter on my Prius from 2006 has just been stolen. I contacted the Toyota Sweden customer service about a CatLoc, but they have not introduced it on the Swedish market. How can I buy a solid CatLoc to be placed under my Prius by my local workshop? The Toyota workshop show no interest in this. All the best/ Susanne Rosberg Gothenburg Sweden

    1. Hello Susanne, thanks for your comment.

      We can only comment on the UK market, you will need to discuss this with Toyota in Sweden.

      Thanks.

  9. I intend to purchase a 4th generation Yaris 20plate
    1 is it classed as low risk for cat theft
    2 are catloc available
    3 whst is cost of catloc Inc fitting

    1. Hi Terry,
      Thanks for your comment and thank you for your interest in the Yaris.
      Firstly, the Yaris is classed as low risk for catalytic converter.
      Secondly, a CATLOC is available for this vehicle.
      Finally, we would recommend contacting your Toyota Centre to receive a quote for fitting a CATLOC.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Thanks.

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