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. Hello Helen,
          Thank you for your comment.
          There is no official Lexus CatLoc available for this model.
          The ISR marking kit is available, but this doesn’t work in the same way as a CatLoc.
          Thanks.

  1. I have a 2015 NX, would there be any protection shield for my type of vehicle for piece of mind?

    1. Hello Melvin,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      There is no official Lexus CatLoc available for the NX.
      ISR marking kits are available, but these do not work in the same way as a CatLoc.
      We would recommend speaking to your nearest Lexus Centre to discuss the options available to you.
      Thanks.

      1. If there isn’t an CatLoc for the NX and talking to the Woodford branch would say the same thing. What’s the point? It just goes round in circles.

  2. My cat was stolen from my ct200h – wires to horn cut through grill. My dog had barked the night before – when I checked cctv after the theft I could see my front door had been blocked by a person with a power tool. I was out walking my dog when the theft took place. This level of intrusion is the most worrying luckily my daughter was not aware as it would have made her feel vulnerable in her own home. I am selling my car as I cannot have this happen again. My neighbours have had their ct targeted twice and they have off street parking.

    1. Hello Sabah,
      Thank you for your comment. We are so sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this awful crime.
      This crime is being perpetrated by organised criminal gangs, and unfortunately there is little that can be done to stop these brazen thieves.
      We are working with many different organisations such as the Police, local MPs and the National Lead for Vehicle Crime to try and raise issues with existing legislation, and we have developed theft deterrent devices such as CatLocs to try and protect customers from further attacks. However, determined criminals with power tools can be very difficult to completely protect against.
      We’re so sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by these criminals, and we’re sorry to see you leave.
      Thanks.

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