Catalytic converter theft: what you need to know

Catalytic converter theft from cars isn’t a new crime, but it has increased significantly in recent times.

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 the 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?

In May 2021, Lexus (GB) announced that it would be covertly marking more than 100,000 catalytic converters in order to combat theft. By working with police and Smartwater, catalytic converters can be tagged with an invisible yet traceable marking, meaning that a stolen catalytic converter can be traced to a specific crime, helping police in their attempts to fight the organised gangs responsible. It also raises the risk to all those handling the devices along the criminal chain, from theft to eventual disposal and recycling.

It is free to get the catalytic converter marked, all customers need to do is call their local Toyota or Lexus retailer to arrange a visit.

In addition to this, Lexus has issued 20,000 Smartwater kits to police to support their local anti-catalyst theft initiatives. The company is also working with the AA, Toyota’s roadside partner, so its patrols can point customers to where they can get a free kit.

We have also developed and reduced the price of a ‘Catloc’ device which can deter theft and make it more difficult. Lexus teams in the UK and other countries are urgently exploring new technical possibilities to deter criminals as well.

We are 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 Lexus 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.

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 Lexus 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?

If you are worried about potential catalytic converter theft from your Lexus, we recommend you use our locator tool to find your nearest Lexus centre and contact them to discuss the best way to protect your car.

This article was last updated on 14 May 2021, so some of the responses to reader comments below have been superseded by more recent information.

490 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. 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.

  1. 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.

      1. The same thing happened to me last night 11pm!
        I have a CT200h , one guy blocked the entrance door and all I could see is his reflection as there was a torch towards him , he had a cap and freaked me out! And the kids too , as I thought he’s drilling through the entrance door. Police arrived within 5 minutes and they reported 3x more catalyst from Lexus were stolen during that 1 HR of me reporting!
        It’s a very scary thing to experience especially for the kids, they didn’t feel safe last night.
        I am going to put in metals gates to the driveway , is Lexus paying for the new catalyst, me not having a car for now with 2 kids , and for CCTV and new metal gate ????
        What’s the point of having a hybrid lexus car ? Please enlighten me as I am losing faith in this brand.

        Woodford branch won’t do shit, you guys don’t even have metal covers for these cars! As if you are in the same bed with the thieves themselves.

        I have to go to a local garage to make one for my car and now I hope the insurance will get this sorted ASAP

        1. Hi Alicia,

          Thanks for getting in touch. We are very sorry to hear that your Lexus has been targeted by thieves, and in such a distressing way. It was right to contact the police, given the threatening nature of the crime that was committed. It is very difficult to stop determined organised criminal gangs but there is a Catloc available for the CT 200h, which your nearest Lexus centre can order and fit for you.

          Again, we’re sorry that you have been a victim of crime and hope you are back on the road soon.

          Thanks

    1. Hi Ken,

      Thanks for getting in touch. As the IS 300h is not a high risk vehicle, there is not a dedicated Catloc available at this time, however, marking kits, tilt alarms and bolt welding are available.

      Thanks

  2. Hello

    Please sign the below petition. I know although this crime is a “minority” to Lexus/Toyota/Honda owners please share the hell out of this petition. Action speaks louder than words and we as a community of Victims only a shade below 300 has signed! This crime needs to be on the radar of the Government as with the now the ever growing spate of dog thefts.

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/575859?fbclid=IwAR1bjqY9lSTTW2rvN0GWCu_pIOgCUHdYIa-25VWgM24ceRdKztWW2KVUU-Y

    Thank you

  3. The catalytic converter for my 2008 Lexus RX350,( not a hybrid) is going to cost $2500 at the dealership. The OEM part cost is $2200 itself. I need to have a CatLoc device installed to help prevent theft again! Please what is your advice.

    1. Hello Elizabeth,
      Thank you for getting in touch with us.
      As we are Lexus UK, we can only comment on the product availability in the UK market.
      Please contact Lexus in your region for further assistance.
      Thanks.

  4. How do I know if the cat converter has been stolen from my lexus 200ct? Afrew nights ago the car alarm went off at 4am (never gone off before) and then went off again before we could got outside to look/cancel it ourselves. I therefore want to check.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      If the catalytic converter has been stolen, there would be a very loud noise coming from underneath the car when the petrol engine switches on.

      Thanks

  5. I don’t have a driveway but I do have a front garden. I love Lexus soo much that I want to remove my front fence so I can park my next Lexus (CT or IS300h) I buy on the grass. My question is, as the thieves need to jack the car up, surley if parked on grass they cannot jack the car up to steal the catalytic converter???

    1. Hi Darius,

      Thanks for getting in touch. It is hard to say exactly what lengths these organised criminals will go to when stealing catalytic converters. You would think that a car parked on grass would make it more difficult, but we can’t promise that it won’t get stolen. Sorry about that.

      Thanks

    1. Hello Victor,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      There is a CatLoc available for the RX450h, along with an ISR marking kit, a tilt sensor and bolt caps.
      These can be purchased through your nearest Lexus Centre.
      Thanks.

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