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.

2,392 comments

    1. Hi Ilu, thanks for getting in touch.

      This vehicle has been labelled as ‘low risk’ according to our risk matrix.

      Should you wish to protect your vehicle, the following measures should be available: an ISR Marking Kit, and Bolt.

      Please contact your local Toyota Centre to discuss further here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/find-a-dealer

      Thanks.

  1. Hi, Could you please check if my car re number PJ20MMK is at risk?

    Also installing Toyota CATLock and marking the CC is it preventative or act to slow down the process of theft?

    Last question, have you experienced a case where the CC is stolen after Toyota CATLock was installed.

    1. Hi Mustafa, thanks for getting in touch.

      This vehicle has been labelled as ‘medium risk’ according to our risk matrix.

      Should you wish to protect your vehicle, the following measures should be available: a CATLOC, ISR Marking Kit, Tilt Sensor and Bolt.

      Please contact your local Toyota Centre to discuss further here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/find-a-dealer

      Thanks.

  2. Hi Toyota, I have just ordered a new Toyota 2024 c-hr will all these options be available on delivery latter next year or have some ie marking been done at the factory as it’s manufacturing process & what risk level will this vehicle be ?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Neil,
      Thank you very much for your order!
      Unfortunately, we do not have any further information to share on the risk level of the all-new C-HR.
      Although it is important to consider that over time, we have taken action over time to reduce the precious metal content of the catalytic converters of our newer hybrids by up to 84%.
      This means that newer vehicles are generally of much lower risk.
      We hope this helps.
      Thank you.

  3. What is the category of Catalytic converter theft for my Prius Plug-in OW23PKC? What can I do to protect it from theft?

    1. Hi Martin,
      This vehicle registration is showing as a Citroen?
      Please confirm the correct vehicle registration so that we can assist you further.
      Thanks.

      1. Hi Martin,
        Our system shows this as being a medium risk vehicle.
        A CATLOC is available for your Prius Plug-in, please contact your nearest Toyota Centre if you would like to have this fitted.
        Thanks.

  4. Hi i am looking to buy

    Toyota Yaris
    1.5 Hybrid Y20 5dr CVT [Bi-tone] 2020 (69 reg)

    Or this model:
    Prius 1.8 VVT-h Business Edition Plus Hatchback 5dr Petrol Hybrid CVT Euro 6 (s/s) (15in Alloy) (122 ps)
    2017 (66 reg)

    What is their risk of CC theft? Thanks

    1. Hi Dulani,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Please can you provide the full registration of both vehicles so that we can check this for you.
      Thanks.

    1. Hi Godfrey,
      Thanks for your question.
      Our system shows this Prius Plus as a medium risk vehicle.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Thanks.

    1. Good afternoon, apologies for the delay in coming back to you.

      If you are concerned about potential catalytic converter theft from your Toyota, we recommend clicking here to find your nearest Toyota Centre and contact them to discuss the best way to protect your car. https://brnw.ch/21wHtE7

      Thank you.

    1. Hi Patrick, thanks for getting in touch.

      We would recommend getting in touch with your local Toyota Centre as a Catloc may be available for your vehicle. They can also apply the free of charge Smartwater marking.

      Thanks,

      Toyota UK

    1. Hi Alan,
      Our system shows that your RAV4 Plug-in is a low risk vehicle and a CATLOC is not available.
      SmartWater Marking is available free of charge from any Toyota Centre, so please contact them if you would like to have this applied.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Thanks.

  5. Hi, can you please check my car too? Reg is Lj17 ***. Window was broken but nothing was taken as luckily someone was walking by. I wanted to know what precautions i can take, is catlock available?

    1. Hi Hamida, thanks for getting in touch.

      Your registration number was not recognised in our system, please may you check this.

      Thanks,

      Toyota UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To be the first to hear about all of our latest news, offers and events, check the box below, we’ll send these communications by email, phone, SMS or post. Be assured that Toyota will only share your personal information with companies that are an integral part of fulfilling the services we deliver. If you would like to find out more about how we process your data please visit our privacy policy for details.

I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time.