Toyota GB statement on vehicle theft

Diversity at Toyota

We take the issue of Toyota and Lexus vehicle theft very seriously. We are continuously developing technical solutions to make our vehicles more secure, to help reduce the risk of theft.

An enhanced security hardware system was introduced in October 2021 (Lexus) and October 2022 (Toyota) on the latest models targeted by criminals. Since which, we have seen a significant drop in thefts of those models.

For older models, we endeavour to create solutions that can offer enhanced protection to our customers.  Following significant investments by Toyota GB, in line with that of other vehicle manufacturers, newly developed official Toyota and Lexus security hardware components will very soon be available to fit to those targeted models registered before October 2021.

Following communication from Toyota and Lexus in the coming weeks, owners should contact their local dealer to arrange fitment. Customers can already speak to their local dealer about the fitment of a protective plate to block access to the vehicle’s electronics. This is a nationwide customer care offering available on Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Lexus RX and Lexus NX.

As a vehicle manufacturer, we can never completely eliminate the risk of vehicle theft. This is an industry-wide issue, concerning all vehicle manufacturers and affecting the most popular models first.

In order to further reduce the theft risk, we regularly collaborate and share information with insurance associations, police and law enforcement authorities, theft prevention experts and other key stakeholders around the world. This enables us to understand new threats and techniques used by thieves and develop more secured systems. 

Alongside our efforts, we urge those authorities to focus on reducing the number of thefts. We would also like to see action taken that leads to the end to the online sale of devices used by criminals to steal cars without using the car keys, as these devices serve no purpose other than a criminal one.

How do thieves manage to steal cars in this manner?

The thieves disconnect part of the headlamp and use a malicious device to send signals to the control CAN bus (the communication ‘backbone’ within a car) that allow the doors to open and the car to start without the key or remote control.

Thieves need to:

  • Purchase a relatively expensive rogue device (third-party ‘emergency start‘ device which costs around £2500 – £4000 each)
  • Gain physical access to the vehicle’s CAN bus communication wires for an uninterrupted period.

The third-party ‘emergency start‘ device has the capability to initiate an exploit in the following manner:

  • Once connected to the vehicle’s CAN bus communication wires, the third-party ‘emergency start‘ device can send a prioritised series of CAN signals to bypass the vehicle’s security and immobiliser systems, which could allow a thief to unlock the doors and turn the vehicle’s ignition ON.
  • The third-party ‘emergency start’ device is then disconnected.
  • At this point a thief can enter the vehicle and start the car without the key.

What is Toyota doing to prevent these types of attacks?

Toyota and Lexus take the issue of car theft very seriously.  We are continuously developing technical solutions to make our vehicles more secure to help reduce the risk of theft.

In fact, in the UK market, an enhanced security hardware was introduced in October 2021 on the latest versions of the models that had previously been targeted by criminals. Since then, we have seen a significant drop-off in terms of successful thefts of those models.

For older models we endeavour to create solutions that can offer enhanced protection to our customers. 

We cannot divulge the precise nature of the imminent security enhancement; should we do so we risk offering information into the public domain that could be of interest to criminal parties.

The intention is to make the security enhancement available to vehicles affected by CAN bus theft.

What models are known to be targeted by this issue and are newer models affected?

The models primarily targeted are fourth-generation Lexus RX and the Toyota RAV4. 

For older models we endeavour to create solutions that can offer enhanced protection to our customers.

Since October 2022, Toyota models are subject to a platform change that negates CAN Bus theft. This excludes Hilux, which is not subject to CAN bus attacks.

When did Toyota first become aware of the vulnerability in the security systems?

It is not so much vulnerability of the security systems but more so the growing rise in criminal gangs targeting vehicles for ‘cannibalisation’ and/or complete theft.  

Instances appear to have been rising significantly from 2019-2020.

There are many factors involved and at a global level. This includes parts of the world experiencing parts shortage which results in targeted thefts to supply vehicles and/or parts sent to countries experiencing trade restrictions.

Which models can be fitted with the enhanced security feature?

It can be fitted to Land Cruiser 150, RAV4 and first-generation Toyota C-HR.

When is the enhanced security upgrade going to be available and will it be free of charge?

Exact timings are still to be confirmed. We anticipate being able to advise the Toyota Centre network with full details soon. The security enhancement needs to be carried out at a Toyota Centre. Costs are under review; customers may incur a nominal charge.

Are any new models targeted by thieves?

While no car can be considered 100% immune to criminal intent, more recent models are equipped with enhanced security systems aimed at deterring CAN bus type thefts.

Given that the rise in this type or car theft has been known for several years in other countries and is growing in the UK why wasn’t I told about this?

Toyota takes the issue of car crime very seriously. To protect customers’ vehicles our approach is not to disclose our vehicle theft analysis data. The sharing of information could enable thieves to find ways to circumvent anti–theft technologies or make some models particularly attractive to some thieves and unnecessarily vulnerable to attack.

Is a Vehicle Protection Plate (VPP) available for any Toyota models?

Yes, for RAV4, excluding the Plug-In Hybrid model (which is not susceptible to CAN bus attack). The fitment is chargeable.

What is the countermeasure and what’s the plan moving forwards?

We are continuously developing technical solutions to make our vehicles more secure and reduce the risk of theft. An enhanced security hardware was introduced in October 2022 on the latest versions of the models that had previously been targeted by criminals. Since then, we have seen a significant drop-off in terms of successful thefts of those models.

Why is there no recall for vehicles susceptible to the CAN bus attack?

Recall announcements in the UK are guided by very specific guidelines as drawn up by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). To qualify as a recall, the issue must relate to a safety or thermal type issue where there is potential for injury as a result of vehicle manufacture or component failure. Only in these such circumstances can a recall be announced. In recall circumstances, the DVSA will provide manufacturers access to ownership records for purpose of communication. Instances of theft do not trigger a recall.

Will Toyota pay for damage caused by an attempted theft?

No. This will need to be addressed by the customer and the vehicle insurers. While we understand theft or attempted theft can be highly upsetting and, in some cases, a costly experience, in such instances customers are first and foremost victims of crime. Toyota does not cover costs associated with criminal activity either under the terms of the warranty or as goodwill.

What is the position with insuring affected models?

As a manufacturer, we stay close to Toyota Insurance colleagues and indeed all motor insurers. We are aware that in many cases, insurance premiums might have increased as a direct result of vehicle crime. We need to refer you to your insurer for further comment.

310 comments

  1. Dear Toyota
    Have you notified UK Insurance Companies the steps you are taking such as Anti Thief Plate so that Insurance on the RAV4 and Lexus can be reduced .

    Insurance on RAV 4 and Lexus have gone up 100% .

    Sale of these models will drop unless this security issue is sorted out .

    1. Hi John
      Whilst we cannot speak for all insurance companies, Toyota insurance services would know.
      However, it would also be for the driver to update their insurance company with what deterrent’s they have had fitted.
      Kind regards

  2. I have a 2022 Land Cruiser registered December 2022 which is proving to be a bit of a target for thieves. Would you be able to confirm if this model is subject to platform change that negates CAN Bus theft, if not would you confirm when the enhanced security upgrade will be available please. I cannot believe that you will be charging for this. Would you also confirm if the Vehicle Protection Plates will fit a J150 Cruiser please.

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