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 Suffolk, 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.

2,113 comments

  1. Hi I bought a Lexus rx400h . It came with a catloc fitted by a Lexus approved dealer hence it shows up on my lexus service app as fitted by Toyota. I have noticed a clunking irregular noise form the catlok area kind of like the exhaust and catlok contacting is one possibility . Can I take it to any Toyota or lexus dealer to see if there is problem with the catlok.? One way is to remove the catlok and see how she works without it or is that a speciality job? While checking for any loose shields or exhaust issues . If not seen then test drive with catlok off . Has anyone else noted noise from this area after catlok fitted.

    1. Hi Paddy,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Yes, we would recommend taking your vehicle to your nearest Lexus Centre.
      They will be able to physically inspect your vehicle and diagnose any potential issues.
      Thanks.

      1. Hi Paddy,

        We can’t advise on the cost of this, but the dealership will be able to give you an estimate before going ahead with any work.

        Thanks,

        Toyota UK

    2. Someone has stolen my catlic convertor today and I have called my local toyota and they said it will cost me more than thousand pounds. Are they any help me?

  2. Just had mine stolen on my 63 plate Auris tourer from a busy retail park in the middle of the day next to a busy main road and 5 road crossroads on a site covered in CCTV have spent days sorting insurance courtesy car out contacting police and stores on the site ,knew nothing about it till I called AA out after I called them as car was sounding like a jet aircraft as I noticed heat shield of floor thought it had just fell off as we had been on a very rough road earlier little did I know , apparently the AA guy had dealt with 5 such incidents in the last few months and similar stories from the insurance and hire car companies n,it’s an absolute epidemic and something needs to be done ,thinking back I saw a battered Mercedes sprinter van go slowly past were a was parked and and park a few spaces away ,again the AA chap told me they usually use large battered vans to hide what there doing having one as a lookout one in the driver’s seat and one doing the jacking to steal the catalyst ,also I believe hybrids are hot targets as the platinum used is much purer ,truly frightening and has made me paranoid parking the car anywhere if this can happen in such a busy and open space how is it safe parked anywhere ,am seriously considering an Ev Purley to avoid it being a target

    1. Hi Jonathan,
      Thanks you for contacting us.
      We are really sorry to hear that you’ve been affected by this crime.
      We have tried to make sure that as many customers as possible have been informed through publishing police advice about the crime online as soon as it was received, writing to our dealer network to inform customers and writing directly to vehicle owners where details have been available to do so.
      We have also engaged with the Home Office, Local MPs, the Met Police and the Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Police (Jenny Sims), who is also the National Lead for Vehicle Crime. This will raise the profile of the crime with all police forces and identify issues with current legislation.
      As catalytic converters contain precious metals, any car containing one is in theory at risk of theft. Over time, we have reduced the precious metal content of our catalytic converters by up to 84% and currently produce CatLocs for vehicles considered most at risk, but criminals are using high-grade power tools that are difficult for any manufacturer to completely protect against.
      Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.
      Thanks.

      1. Sorry is not the right word to use for effected vehicles customer. Toyota company should needs to take immediate steps like covered bottom part of converter. Or give a compensation to all customers those who effected by theft. Robbers put a big slap on police forces who r responsible for safety environment and area.

  3. Had the cat for my 2017 toyota prius plus stolen last night, advised the police and arranged repairs via my insurance company, next arrange the courtesy hire car and collection of the Prius for repairs.
    So how much is a Toyota Cat lock for a 2017 Prius Plus? Will the insurance pay for it?

    1. Hi Michael,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Firstly, your Toyota Centre would be able to advise on pricing of the CATLOC.
      Secondly, this is for your insurance company to decide. We would recommend discussing this with them.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Thanks.

      1. I had a catloc fitted to my 09 Prius after a theft. I had to have it removed because it rattled like a tin can full of nails. Made driving unpleasant.
        There is no solution as long as police and politicians sit on their hands doing nothing.

  4. The catalytic converter for my Auris 2018 was stolen on the 19.12.21. The AA has recovered it to the local Toyota dealer however I was told that they don’t have any converter available to fit and they don’t know when it will be delivered. Do you have any ideas about when these will get in stock!

    1. Hi Jan,
      Firstly, we are extremely sorry to hear that you have been affected by this terrible crime.
      Unfortunately we do not have any information on when catalytic converters will be delivered.
      We would recommend staying in touch with your Toyota Centre for the latest updates on this.
      Thanks.

      1. In my Auris Hybrid 2018 model, the catalytic converter has also been stolen and it is paranoia with a parody of how Toyota pretends to be fighting crime because it is not. Police in the UK gave the official the go-ahead to thieves by not engaging in public intervention during the theft. Neither Toyota nor the Police in the UK realize how helpless Toyota owners are losing their jobs, money and nerves at such moments.

  5. Dear Sir I have a Hybrid Yaris LP63 ELU, I tried calling your Toyota service department for the
    Catalytic converter marking but no one seems to answer.
    I received the letter from the Toyota office to book for this service free as I bought this car and have a service plan.
    Can you please look into this situation as I am concern on these raiders.

  6. Catylic converter stolen from my Toyota prius plus BN20AEB 4 January 2022 on my drive way kindly let me know how we can protect our Catylic converter from thief’s and Toyota can help us to fit any device thanks

    1. Hi Abdulrauf,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      A CATLOC is available for your Prius Plus, please contact your nearest Toyota Centre to arrange a fitting.
      If you require any further assistance, please let us know.
      Thanks.

  7. My 2013 Toyota Auris Hybrid Catalytic Convertor was stolen 3 days ago. It is £1200 + at Toyota dealer for replacement and £ 900 at an independent garage. Why are they so expensive, some of Toyotas competitors (Ford, Mazda) have it for less then half the price. Can Toyota do something on the replacement Catalytic convertors to get the price down.
    It seems like victims of the theft are required to carry all the burden, can Toyota dealers add the paint and CatLoc as part of your campaign to reduce further burden on Toyota customers.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment.

      We are sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this crime. We make no profit on the replacement catalytic converter parts, nor on the Catloc.

      Thanks.

  8. Had my cat stolen last night in Flitwick, Bedford by gang of 4 guys. 2011 prius. Awaiting quote from garage on an aftermarket replacement. Forget ‘not making profit on replacement’, simply issue a cheaper cat lock that is not necessarily sold secure (given there are no 100% guarantees) as a deterrent and a cheap ‘motion alarm’ for when the cars are jacked up. Quick, easy, low cost for customers and provides a good amount of deterrent.

    1. Hi Dave,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      We have ensured that the cost to customers of replacement catalytic converters supplied and fitted through our approved service centres is as low as possible and we make no profit from this.
      Furthermore, criminals are using high-grade power tools that are difficult for any manufacturer to completely protect against.
      Ultimately, this is a criminal issue and we’ve been working with and supporting the Police, both publicly and behind the scenes to help put a stop to this awful crime.
      Once again, we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.
      Thanks.

  9. My toyota yaris 1.0 exhaust has been stolen 2 days ago does it have catalytic converter any help from TOYOTA.

  10. I had the CC stolen from my 2011 Auris Hybrid 28th Jan 2022, around 1.30 am. The car was parked on my driveway. The same night they also targeted a Prius 2 houses down.
    I’ve had lengthy conversations with the police & they don’t know how to prevent it. I spoke to a woman at Toyota, and she said the most recent models have hidden catalytic converters? Is that true? I’m scared that I’ll go through the expense & hassle of getting this car fixed, just for it to happen again. One policeman recommended buying a different make of car, since Toyota hybrids were the top targets. It seems crazy to me that a simple tilt alarm isn’t offered to Toyota customers for free. It’s not our fault the cars are designed to the burglars’ benefit. I feel I’m being penalised & the criminals & the manufacturers aren’t.

    1. Hello Sara,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this horrible crime.
      A CATLOC and Tilt Sensor are both available for your Auris if you wish to have them fitted.
      As catalytic converters contain precious metals, any car containing one is in theory at risk of theft. Over time, we have reduced the precious metal content of our catalytic converters by up to 84% and currently produce CatLocs for vehicles considered most at risk as mentioned.
      However, criminals are using high-grade power tools that are difficult for any manufacturer to completely protect against.
      Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.
      If there is anything further we can do to assist you at this time, please let us know.
      Thanks.

      1. Hello, please advise where we get the tilt sensor from? I asked my Toyota dealer and they knew nothing about it?

      2. Hi Nigel,
        Your Toyota Centre should be able to advise on this.
        If not, we recommend that they raise a case with us.
        Thanks.

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