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. This happened to us yesterday, lexus GS first we thought it was a burst exhaust only for the neighbour to tell us that he heard a loud bang noise on getting up he saw 3 guys jump into a car and speed off. Anyone know cost of replacement?

      1. What options do owners of Lexus GS300h have as there have been a number of incidents on this forum where their catalytic converters have been taken yet you do not provide a Catloc for these cars as you deem them to be ‘low risk’. They are not low risk and therefore are there plans for CATlocs to be available for these cars?

        1. Hello HK,
          Thank you for your comment. We’re very sorry to hear your vehicle has been targeted by criminals.
          We have no information about an official Catloc for the GS 300h, although your nearest Lexus centre may be able to recommend other deterrents.
          Saying that, there are generic Catlocs available from aftermarket suppliers that may suit your vehicle.
          Thanks.

    1. Hello All

      This issue must be resolved with a recall . I am trying to raise a case with the Motoring Ombudsman. What i have found is that Lexus try and ignore the issue. If neccessary we should take this further legally . This is clearly an example of misselling and a health and safety design fault.

      1. Hello Dan,
        Thanks for your comment. We are sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
        We can see that you have been in touch with our Customer Relations team, who have no doubt explained the lengths we have gone to not only to inform our customers but to try and protect them from further theft.
        If you would like to discuss your situation further, we would recommend continuing to communicate with them.
        Thanks.

    1. Hello Moad, thanks for getting in touch. Second-generation Lexus RX 400h models (2005-2008) and the Lexus CT 200h have been a target for thieves, but any car fitted with a catalytic converter within the exhaust system could be at risk. All cars sold in Europe since 1993 have had to be fitted with catalytic converter by law. Your nearest Lexus centre will be able to advise you on deterrent devices. Find your nearest Lexus centre here: https://www.lexus.co.uk/forms/find-a-centre Thanks.

  2. I have a Lexus CT-200 which has had its catalytic converter stolen and the thieves also cut the wires to the horn through the grill.

    As mentioned on a previous post, this issue must be resolved with a recall. I can see the LexusUK reply saying they make customers aware, however I have NEVER received any correspondence from Lexus suggesting this was an ongoing issue. I had my car serviced in September, again I was not made aware that thieves were targeting the Lexus CT-200.

    I have spoken to my Lexus dealer and the customer representative said they are aware of this before the beginning of 2020, hence they are no longer offering a fixed cost repair. Lexus UK, please explain why you are asking customers to pay to fit a cat lock for a new vehicle when it should have been fitted as standard to prevent these crimes occurring in the first place. If Lexus were truly sorry and understood the pain and frustration, they would be fixing the source problem rather than asking customers to pay out thousands.

    1. Hello Abs,
      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves.
      We have engaged with local MPs, the Home Office, the Met Police and the National Lead for Vehicle Crime to try and raise awareness of this issue as well as to highlight issues with existing legislation.
      We have also tried to ensure as many of our customers as possible are aware through publishing police advice on this crime online, writing to our dealer network to brief customers and even directly to owners of a number of our vehicles where possible.
      Regarding repairs, this will depend on the extent of the damage, hence why there is no fixed cost for this.
      For vehicles considered to be most at risk, we have taken action to produce theft deterrent devices such as CatLocs at zero profit to Lexus UK to try and protect customers from further attacks. There is one available for the CT, and this can be ordered through your nearest Lexus Centre.
      If you wish to discuss your situation in further detail, our Customer Relations team are best placed to do so with you. You can contact them here: https://www.lexus.co.uk/concierge-tool/contact-us/
      Once again, we are very sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      Thanks.

    2. I’m in exactly the same position, thieves stole the cat converter from my CT200h and I (or rather my insurer) was left to foot the £2000 bill.

      I’ve had a catloc fitted however Lexus didn’t once make me aware of this problem when I purchased the car in 2019.

      If it happens again I’ll sell the car and purchase one elsewhere that doesn’t suffer from this severe design flaw.

      1. Hi Peter,

        Sorry to hear that your vehicle was targeted by thieves. We are glad to hear you are back on the road and hope the deterrant device you had fitted is effective.

        Thanks

  3. Hello, another catalytic converter stolen from a CT200 2017 number plate. So many complaints about this particular part being stolen from Lexus cars and yet still nothing has been done neither by Police or Lexus. I understand that a Catloc does not prevent the thieves from stealing, it only takes a little longer to remove it. I’m so disappointed and frustrated that nothing can be done to stop this from happening again and again.

    1. Hi Aliona,

      We are very sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. Whilst we have developed theft prevention devices for targeted vehicle, there is very little that can stop a determined thief using power tools. We have been working with the Police for some time in effort to stop this crime and we hope things change soon. Once again, sorry that you have been a victim of crime.

      Thanks

      1. For cars that are on lease through Lexus who are responsible for the costa of replacing the CAT converters? Mine was stolen last night

        1. Hi Charlotte,

          We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. Maintenance is the responsiblity of the customer. Please contact your nearest Lexus centre to order replacement parts. We hope you’re back on the road as soon as possible.

          Thanks

  4. Just found out that someone has just stolen our Cat converter from our CT200h and also damaged the front grille and electrics while doing so. This happened in Richmond-upon-thames while it was parked just off a busy main rd. Just read on the local police website and on Lexus forums that this is a very common issue. So sad that nothing is safe, anywhere nowadays.

    1. Hi Chandresh,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. Please contact your nearest Lexus centre so they can order the necessary replacement parts and talk you through the available theft deterrent devices. We hope you are back on the road ASAP.

      Thanks

  5. My catalyst converter was stolen 13/02/21 at tesco superstore car park… this is the first I have heard about Lexus being targeted. I have never received an email or been told last August when I went in for servicing. What is the point of keeping the Lexus when some people have had it stolen twice?! I am paying out of my own pocket and the thief’s used a stolen plate. Why shoud we have to pay for a cat lock? Also will a cat lock just take longer for them to remove the catalyst because I have seen everywhere already that the only safest place to park your Lexus is a garage!

    1. Hi Sara,

      We are very sorry to hear your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. A Catloc is a deterrent, but determined criminals with power tools are very difficult to stop entirely. Please contact your nearest Lexus centre who will be able to order replacement parts and talk you through the avialable theft deterrent devices.

      Thanks

  6. My CT200h catalytic converter went last night. Bold as brass right outside my house. The issue with grill damage seems to be to rip the wires off the horn to stop alarm noise. The wires could be made more secure although at the risk of more damage to the grill being done to get to them.
    I blame the recycling industry whom still haven’t cleaned up their act. Why is there a market for these stolen devices?

    1. Hello Martin,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      We have engaged with the many different parties, including the Home Office and the National Lead for Vehicle Crime, to try and raise the profile of this crime and identify the issues with existing legislation.
      We are hoping to see changes that will make it harder for these to be sold, which in turn should decrease the number being stolen.
      Thanks.

    2. CT200H cat converter stolen from East London. Second time this has happened to me (previously on a Honda). So fed up with Japanese cars not securing these parts better. I’ll be looking for an alternative.

      1. Hi Syed,

        We are very sorry to hear your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. There is little we can do to stop determined thieves with power tools from vandalising customer vehicles, and due to the nature of the catalytic converter, we are limited as to where we can put it on the vehicle. Sorry to hear you will be leaving, but we wish you all the best.

        Thanks

    3. I just had mine stolen, 4 guys came to my house on the drive while I was in brandishing a weapon so couldn’t do anything about it! Lexus needs to do more to protect the cars! Does insurance cover the part if stolen?

      1. Hi,

        We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. We expect your insurance company will cover it, but we recommend contacting them for confirmation, as well as reporting this crime to your local police force. We hope you are back on the road soon.

        Thanks

  7. Hi Lexus,
    My vehicle: LEXUS CT 200H SE PLUS had its catalytic convertor stolen overnight. Its a brand new car bought in late 2018. Why is the design of the car not changed to take this into account?

    1. Hi Sunali,

      Sorry to hear your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. Due to the nature of the catalytic converter, there are very few places it can be fitted. It must be between the engine and the exhaust system. The value of materials within the catalyitc converter has risen sharply in the last few years, making them attractive to criminals, who use power tools to remove the part. Again, we are very sorry this has happened to you and recommend reporting to the police. We hope you are back on the road soon.

      Thanks

  8. My CT200h which is only 2 month old had its catalytic converter stolen. on my driveway right outside my house. last night
    .
    I am being told by Lexus I can buy a CATLOC why is this not fitted as standard if you have been aware of this going on since December 2019 the date of this article?

    You fit the cars with alarms and immobilisers this should be just one more bit of security. I now have a bill for £1459 to replace it plus another £200 for the CATLOC to stop it happening again

    1. Hello Richard,
      Thank you for contacting us. We are so sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this awful crime.
      The value of materials contained within the catalytic converter has risen sharply in the last few years, which we could not have foreseen. This ultimately makes then me them attractive to criminals, who use power tools to remove the part.
      We have therefore developed CatLocs and other theft deterrent devices, which are supplied at zero profit to Lexus UK, to try and protect customers from further attacks.
      Once again, we are sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves, and we hope that you will be back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  9. I too have had my cat stolen and the front grill broken on both sides to break the alarm by these gangs on the 19/02/2021 in London Brent Cross shopping centre in the Fenwick carpark. Even though they have security patrolling and police on site. I find the position the alarm is placed is a joke as anyone can bypass and damage it with little effort. I will be fixing the car and selling it off. Lexus you should do more for your customers instead of charging them more to secure the cat….

    1. Hello Kaish,
      Thank you for contacting us. We are so sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves.
      As with any crime, we would recommend reporting this to the Police immediately.
      Criminals are using high-grade power saws to remove the catalyst for the precious metals they contain, so in reality they are as easy to remove from any vehicle. The design is not so relevant.
      We have produced CatLocs alongside other theft deterrent devices for vehicles considered to be most at risk, and these are supplied at zero profit to Lexus UK, but high-grade power tools are very difficult to completely protect against.
      Your nearest Lexus Centre will be able to order replacement parts and talk you through the available theft deterrent devices.
      Once again, we are really sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this terrible crime, and we hope that you will be back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

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