Catalytic converter theft: what you need to know

The theft of catalytic converters from cars isn’t a new crime, but it has increased significantly since 2019.

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 within the exhaust system could be at risk. In the case of Lexus, we are aware that second-generation Lexus RX 400h models (2005-2008) and the Lexus CT 200h have been a target for thieves.

Below we’ve gathered the best advice for Lexus 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?

The police are best placed to offer advice on the motivation behind crimes. But we understand that the recycling value of catalytic converters is the primary attraction to thieves because it contains precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium.

What is Lexus doing to stop its cars being targeted?

We’re doing all we can. We’ve shared police guidance with customers, and are seeking technical solutions, although for obvious reasons we would like to refrain from talking about specifics.

We are also 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.

How much does it cost to replace a catalytic converter?

Our priority is to do all we can to support Lexus customers who have been the victims of catalytic converter theft.

We have reduced the prices of catalytic converters to a level where Lexus UK does not make any profit from their supply to customers.

Your nearest Lexus centre can advise on exact costs after inspecting your vehicle.

How long will I have to wait for replacement parts?

The rapid rise in this crime is one we could not have envisaged set against many years of low incidence of thefts. It has impacted our ability to source a sufficient quantity of replacement parts, for which we sincerely apologise.

However, we are taking urgent action with our suppliers to secure increased supplies, which we hope will allow us to effectively tackle the supply issue and repair customers’ cars more quickly.

Who can I contact if I’m worried about my Lexus?

We recommend using our locator tool to find your nearest Lexus centre and contact them to discuss the next steps for your car.

This article was last updated on 2 December 2019, so some of the responses to reader comments below have been superseded by more recent information.

443 comments

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We can’t recommend unofficial Lexus products, however we are urgently looking into other technical possibilities. We would like to refrain from confirming specifics of this at this time.

      Thanks.

      1. My Catalytic Converter was stolen last night from my Rx400. Lexus must seriously do more to inform and have a solution to help us as owners/victims. Doing our bit for the environment isn’t helping us? No replacement part for weeks/months. Come on Lexus, what are you doing?

        1. Hi Julia,

          Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry you have been a victim of this crime. We will email you directly in order to put you in touch with our customer relations team.

          Thanks.

          1. Hi, mine got stolen in september and had mine replaced today at woodford lexus. I was changed £798 for replacing this inspite of your statement above that you are getting this done for customers for £750 including fitting and VAT.

          2. Hi there,

            Thanks for your message. We are so sorry you have been impacted by this crime. Please be aware that costs may vary depending on the extent of any damage that may have been caused as the catalytic converter was removed. We will email you directly regarding putting you in touch with our customer relations team in case you would like to discuss your situation further.

            Thanks.

        2. Julia I am in the same boat as you and have had mine stolen this week from my Rh400 and been told Lexus can’t supply the part until February! They have my details which they use regularly for mail shots so why they couldn’t have tried to alert owners if this model has been identified as a target is beyond me.

          1. Hi Lucy.

            We are so sorry your car has been targeted by thieves. We are working hard to support all our customers who have been impacted by this, and we will email you directly in order to discuss the specifics of your case further.

            Thanks.

        3. My Catalytic Converter was stolen Today morning or last night from my Rx400h 2008 model . I am completely confused and extremely frustrated on what to do. What a waste of money to just put it back to have it stolen.
          What alternative can you recommend and is there a temporary arrangement I can live with.
          Makes me feel so vulnerable that inspite of having cctv and alarms they have a nerve to steal and have read can do it in less than 3 mins.

          1. Hi there,

            Thanks for contacting us. We are deeply sorry you have been impacted by this crime. We will email you directly in order to gain additional details and put you in touch with our customer relations team. Our team are best placed to answer and queries you may have and discuss how we can help you further.

            Thanks.

      2. Can you please update us on the cat lock situation? You claim to have been urgently looking into other technical possibilities two months ago. Mine was stolen on Friday and it is ridiculous to not have any advise for helping Lexus owners prevent such thefts. We all know once we fit a new cat it is highly likely to be stolen again. How can you help us prevent these thefts???

        1. Hi Rory,

          Thanks for getting in touch. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime. Our customer relations team are best placed to discuss your queries in more detail and we will email you directly in order to open a case on your behalf.

          Thanks.

      3. The catalytic converter has just been stolen from my Lexus RX400h 2006 from a busy London street with good lighting. I rang my local Lexus garage who have said that it will cost at least £1300 to repair not the £750 incl VAT mentioned above as they say there is normally other damage around the converter.

        1. Hi Tiffany,

          Thanks for getting in touch. We are so sorry you have been impacted by this crime. Our customer relations team are working to support all our customers who have been a victim of this crime and we will email you directly in order to open a case on your behalf.

          Thanks.

    2. I’ve had a new cat fitted and today am having an official Lexus approved catloc fitted. Will blog again to say how it went.

  1. Are there any locks you could fit to avoid further theft? Lexus has known about this problem for years and never did anything to inform car owners of the potential risk. This was never mentioned to me when I bought the car. Very disappointing!

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are currently working on technical possibilities for our range of models. However, we can’t recommend unofficial Lexus products.

      We have only seen a major rise in this crime since summer this year, which may have been why it wasn’t mentioned to you.

      Thanks.

      1. Mine got replaced today and I paid almost £800 from my pocket (as insurance guys said there may be a delay of 3 months. I am now worried that without any assurance that this has been secured from any further theft, it is still a huge risk. I was planning to upgrade mine and this has not put me off completely…..

    2. This is exactly what I don’t understand. Why are cats not secured before the cars are sold or at least make customers aware of the risks???

  2. Following a basic level check of the underside of an IS300h Advance, it appears the catalytic convertor on this model is part of the manifold assembly and located up inside the engine bay area. The whole cat and pipe above is therefore under the bonnet and inaccessible from the underside of the vehicle for unauthorised cutting or removal. It would be beneficial for both Lexus and consumers if Lexus could confirm both this and for other models with similar “safe” cat location. This is so potential purchasers know the cat is safe for a given model and therefore are not dissuaded from choosing Lexus versus another brand of vehicle.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for you message and apologies for our delayed response. In theory any car with a catalytic converter is at risk of theft. Criminals are using high-grade power saws to remove the catalyst, so in reality they are as easy to remove from any vehicle. The design of the car is less relevant.

      Thanks.

  3. Yes, I have a comment. With reference to an RX400h (2008).

    Given that you can’t get hold of a cat for two months (feedback from Sidcup, along with go elsewhere to get it sorted), we are left having to sort this out using after market parts. As much as your offer is a good response, we need cars on the road today, not in two months.

    What you could do to make it a bit easier for us, is to provide more details about what we have to source to get our cars on the road; that is, is it just a cat, or is it a cat and an o2 sensor. For example, we know that they cut either side of the cat leaving a gap of around 14 inches. Cats are easy to get hold of but there is a mix of commentary about whether there is an o2 sensor either just before or just after the cat that gets stolen at the same time – few of us know because few of us ever really looked under our cars. We all need to know this because it is pointless us buying after market cats if when we get them, there is some fault because an o2 sensor is needed.

    The best thing you could do is to provide a clear diagram showing the exhaust set-up along with parts (including an o2 sensors) so that we can compare the diagram to our own situation.

    If you could do that, given we need our cars on the road, I would appreciate it and so would many others.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. Our customer relations team will be best placed to help you further with this query. With this in mind we will email you directly in order to gain additional details so our team can best advise you on this.

      Thanks.

  4. Was there a suggested way forward with this? My Lexus RX400 has just been (for a way of putting it) de-catted and I’d like to know what most people have done and what Lexus are suggesting?
    Can I ask why platinum and paladium was used? With a bit of foresight, this was inevitable that scummy people would be doing this. Why not gold wing mirrors too?
    I’m fuming and whilst I totally cannot blame you for the thieving low lives doing this, Lexus should be accepting some responsibility for this as it is the equivalent of a design flaw. Maybe recalls for less “sought after” cats to be installed?

    1. Hi Dean,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are incredibly sorry you have been a victim of this crime. We will email you directly in order to open a customer relations case on your behalf. Our team are working to support all our customers who have been impacted by this crime and are best placed to discuss your queries in more detail with you.

      Thanks.

  5. Our cat converter was stolen one month ago and we are very frustrated that Lexus hasn’t been helpful with our enquiry. They never get back to us despite their promises and we’re still waiting for the spare part (which they said it’s been ordered !) we have no car and are paying road tax and insurance. They don’t provide a curtesy car either. Very very disappointed.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are incredibly sorry you have been a victim of this crime. We will email you directly in order to gain additional details to help you further.

      Thanks.

  6. We ended up buying a cat from Catman. It is not a Lexus one but is legit and passes the emissions test. Because it doesn’t have all the stuff that the thieves want there is a good chance it won’t get stolen again. Total cost including fitting by local garage was £400.
    Lexus do it for £750 if you want authentic cat.
    We have not been able to find a cat lock to fit the Lexus 400 which is something I feel Lexus should look at doing.

    1. Once a thief is under the car with his tools he is not going to care if it is genuine or not. They all have the same valuable metals.

  7. We also have the same problem where the catalytic converter was stolen. Now having to pay for a hire car and still no news as to when replacement cats will be available. Today heard from Lexus that it could be next year but no real help or advice

    1. Hi Naomi,

      Thanks for your message. We can only apologise for the distress that may have been caused from this. We will email you top gain additional details and put you in touch with our customer relations team.

      Thanks.

  8. Hi
    There is a problem with lexus rx450h?
    They still using expensive material to produce the catalyst?? Thank you
    Maryo

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