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.

463 comments

  1. Four cars on our carpark lost their catalytic converters a couple of nights ago. Two Lexus, a Toyota and a very old Honda Jazz. The insurance company have written the Honda off. So there goes the transport for an elderly couple. The police are driving in during the night but little chance they will catch the thieves as I understand it is literally a two minute job.

  2. Just had my dads Lexus CT cat stolen on a busy street they were co fro yes and didn’t care. Worst thing is my dads been telling me to get slick and was going to get this done this weekend . Now I’m not looking forward to the cost of replacing something that will get stolen again. Just not what you need in a pandemic. And it’s so easy to take. Can someone let me know what kind of money I’ll be spending in replacing it? My dad is devastated! And so am I

    1. Hello Aaqib,
      Thank you for contacting us. We are so sorry to hear that you have been affected by this terrible crime and appreciate the distress this must have caused.
      Your nearest Lexus Centre will be best placed to advise on costs to replace this.
      There is also a CatLoc available for the CT, and this can be ordered through the Lexus Centre.
      However, determined criminals using power tools are very difficult to completely protect against.
      Once again, we are truly sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this crime.
      Thanks.

  3. I had my Cat stolen from my CT200 last night parked on a driveway. 3 gang members took the CAT within 2 minutes all the while gesturing rudely at the CCTV. When the car alarm came on they waited with a baseball bat and a drill to see if anyone woke and came out. Thankfully my family slept through it. Lexus and Toyota know this is a problem and the cars should be recalled and the issue fixed. I have been quoted over 1100 for the repair and there goes my insurance and no claims bonus for next year.

    1. Hi Mohammad,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted and that you are a victim of crime. The perpetrators are part of an organised criminal gang and are using power tools to carry out the thefts. Unfortunately there is little that can be done to stop brazen, determined criminals like this. We have developed a Catloc deterrent device for your vehicle and would recommend that you consider having this fitted. Again, we are very sorry that your vehicle has been targeted and hope you are back on the road soon.

      Thanks

  4. I recently had my lexus RX300 catalytic converter hacked off. I spent 1470.00 pounds on replacement and a further 250.00 pounds to have it capped. It is absolutely annoying and upsetting. ”If only LEXUS could at least replace it free of charge or give a refund”. Probably another PPI in the makings for a legal professional/s to look into; only time will tell. This is now getting out of hand.

    1. Hi,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. Technically any vehicle fitted with a catalytic converter, a legal requirement, is at risk of theft, but there has been a rise in the rate of this criminal activity in the last few years. We have developed theft deterrent devices, like Catloc, but there is little we can do to stop brazen and determined organised criminal gangs from committing these crimes. Again, we are sorry that you have been affected by this crime and hope you are back on the road soon.

      Thanks

      1. Greetings.
        I took my Lexus RX300 to one of your branches to have a catloc fitted; but was told that there was none being presently manufactured by Lexus for RX300. Was I given wrong information, based on your response to my previous communivation with you?.
        Kind regards
        Papa Silito

        1. Hello Papa Silito,
          Thank you for your reply.
          Whilst it is true that we have developed CatLocs to try and protect against catalytic converter theft, it is also correct that there is not one currently available for your vehicle.
          We apologise for any confusion and inconvenience caused.
          Thanks.

  5. Hi There. I have a RX450H F SPORT 2015 model. Are these models targeted by cat converter thieves? I’m wondering if I need to get a catloc. Please advise. Thanks.

    1. Hello Mark,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      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 is in theory at risk of theft.
      We would recommend contacting your nearest Lexus Centre to discuss the theft deterrent options available to you.
      Thanks.

    2. Hi just had my cat cut and stolen out side my house , by a group of four white male in a silver saloon car rej AV10LJN ,which I checked is false number plate obviously my car lexis gs 450h with an expensive cat what else.

      1. Hello Kurban,
        Thank you for your comment. We are so sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by these brazen thieves.
        If you haven’t already, the first step would be to report this crime to the Police.
        Your nearest Lexus Centre will be able to supply replacement parts, and we hope you are back on the road soon.
        Thanks.

  6. Hi, I’m planning to buy a second hand 2013 RX450h and would like to know if this model has been targeted by thieves in the past. Thank you

    1. Hello Stefan,
      Thank you for your comment. It’s great to hear that you are interested in a Lexus RX450h.
      In terms of Lexus vehicles, second-generation Lexus RX 400h models (2005-2008) and the Lexus CT 200h seem to have been a target for thieves.
      However, any vehicle containing a catalytic converter within the exhaust system is at risk of theft. We would recommend discussing the theft deterrent options available to you with your nearest Lexus Centre.
      Thanks.

  7. Hello,

    Can anyone with a CATLOC advice if it deters the thieves or does it just take them a few minutes longer to cut the CAT.

    1. Hello Mohammad,
      Thank you for your comment.
      CatLocs 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, but determined criminals with power tools are very difficult to completely protect against.
      Your nearest Lexus Centre will be able to advise you on the theft deterrent options available to you.
      Thanks.

  8. Hi,
    I have a 4th generation rx450h. Am I at risk of having the catalyst converter stolen or is it harder for the thief to steel it.

    Br, khan

    1. Hi Naz,

      Any vehicle fitted with a catalytic converter is technically at risk. We only produce Catlocs for vehicle that are targeted most by criminals, and your vehicle is not one of them.

      Thanks

  9. I’ve had my catalytic converter stolen from my CT 200h in the early hours by 3 balaclavad men and a waiting car. Worse still its a Bank Holiday weekend so I’m stuck!!
    Lexus have to accept there is a reason why their cars and certain models are an easy target and profitable for these thieves to single out on driveways or in huge carparks with hundreds of other cars with catalytic convertors.
    I do not think I will buy Lexus again unless this issue is rectified. Since becoming aware that it wasn’t just bad luck or being in the wrong place, I don’t feel safe and an additional Catloc won’t change that. It’s a shame because until this happened I loved my Lexus.

    1. Hi Sharmeen,

      We are really sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. The reason our vehicles seem to be singled out is because of the high quality of the catalytic converter. The materials inside have seen their value increase to an extent that wasn’t possible to predict when your vehicle was developed. Fitting a Catloc is a deterrent, but ultimately, there is little that can be done to stop determined and brazen criminal gangs using power tools from getting what they want. We are working with a number of agencies, including the Police, to put a stop to this crime. Again, we are very sorry that his happened to you and hope you are back on the road soon.

      Thanks

  10. I have had a catloc fitted to my 2019 Ct200. Do you have any reports of cat converter thefts from cars with catloc fitted?

    Your Lexus dealership also recommended.a tilt sensor alarm, which I didn’t opt for. How useful are those?

    Thanks

    1. Hello Ali,
      Thank you for getting in touch.
      CatLocs 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’.
      Tilt sensors are another example of the theft deterrent devices we have developed to try and protect customers from attacks, but again there is no guarantee that this will prevent the theft of your catalytic converter.
      Your nearest Lexus Centre will be best placed to discuss further theft deterrent options with you.
      Thanks.

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