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.

624 comments

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment. If you are referring to the RX 400h, then yes, a Catloc is available for your vehicle. Please contact your nearest Lexus centre who can order and fit one for you.

      Thanks

  1. I had my Lexus CT200h Catholic convertor stolen and they also cut the front grill and chop off some wires too last night parked at communal car park. 2/3 gang members took the CAT within few minutes all the while gesturing rudely at the CCTV. Our neighbour who is the closest from car park called and advised me of same but by the time I reach it was too late and damage was done and gang left.

    Both Lexus and Toyota are very well aware of these issues and they should recalled and the issue fixed if not then atlas add in car convertor lock to customers as this becomes their equal responsibilities else people will have to stop buying their cars as we are loosing trust on the brand and even this this high price car we still have to face this issues.

    I have been quoted over GBP 1500+ for the repair and this is just shooting up my insurance and no claims bonus busted for next year.

    1. Hi,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. Recalls are for safety issues. This is a criminal issue, perpetrated by organised criminal gangs. We have developed a Catloc theft deterrent for your vehicle, which is available at cost price to customers. Again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted and hope you are back on the road soon.

      Thanks

    2. I agree with this. I had the same problem with the same car. Our Catalytic Convertor was stolen on the around 10.30pm on 21 May and I saw them doing this. They gang made violent threats and were aggressive in the actions. The actual theft took them just a few minutes. Another CT200h Cat Convertor from the same area was also stolen about half an hour before.
      The prices for replacement and repair from Lexus are extortionate and I was quoted £1800 from Lexus Edgware. This is a complete rip off and the costs should actually be free as Lexus has known about this problem for a few years and ignored it, while taking extra money from existing vehicle owners. There should have been a recall notice issued with free checks and repairs.
      I have lost trust and confidence in Lexus after this and unlikely to buy this brand or others in the Toyota family again.

      1. The same happened to me. Cat stolen evening of 29th May. Had taken the car in for a service to Lexus Edgeware two days before. Is there a link between the garage visit and these thieves knowing where the cars are located? Data protection concerns?

        1. Hi Ruby,

          We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. We can assure you that we are not passing confidential data to criminal gangs. These organised criminals are roaming the streets looking for targets and your recent visit to a Lexus centre is purely a coincidence. Again, we are sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted and we hope you are back on the road as soon as possible.

          Thanks

    1. Hello Chris,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      All cars sold in Europe since 1993 have had to be fitted with catalytic converter by law.
      Thanks.

  2. Hi Please send me full address as I will be taking Lexis to small claim court because of design of ct200h I have video evidence it took 80 second to cut the cable damage the radiator and stole cat converter this is design issue which Lexus should recalling all of the cars to fix this problem.

    1. Yes completely agree, Lexus should have done a recall to at least put a protector over the cat.
      They should have let people know about the problem as well! so that we could of had an idea rather than the horror of being awakened at 5am with four masked men around my car brandishing base ball bats at us .
      Disgraceful the way we have been treated by what is advertised as a high end company….

      1. Hello Nelson,
        Thank you for your comment. We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distressing way in which this occurred.
        Recalls are for safety issues. This is a criminal issue, perpetrated by organised criminal gangs.
        We have tried to ensure as many of our customers as possible are aware. We published police advice on this crime as soon as it could online, wrote to our dealer network to brief customers and wrote directly to owners of a number of our vehicles where we had details to do so.
        We have developed CatLocs as well as other theft deterrent devices, but as criminals are using high-grade power tools to remove these it is very difficult to completely protect against.
        In May 2021, Lexus (GB) announced that it would be covertly marking more than 100,000 catalytic converters in order to combat theft. It is free to get the catalytic converter marked, all customers need to do is call their local Lexus retailer to arrange a visit.
        Once again, we are so sorry to hear that you have been affected by this awful crime, and we hope you’re back on the road soon.
        Thanks.

        1. I too was woken up a few weeks ago at 5:20 by thieves cutting my catalytic converter off my 14 yr old RX. I’ve claimed on my insurance and also had a catloc fitted at a cost of £375…how can that be cost price? Lexus should have recalled cars and fitted these for free (I work in cybsecurity and we don’t find organisations having data breaches and then saying, “we could never have anticipated being targetted in this way”). I think the Lexus brand is at stake?

  3. Good Morning, I have a 2020 Lexus NX, is there any safety lock for this car, and any cost please.
    Regards

    1. Hi Steve,

      As your vehicle is considered low risk, a Catloc is not currently available. We are constantly evaluating the risk, and if anything changes, we’ll look at introducing one.

      Thanks

    1. Hello Imran,
      Thank you for contacting us. We are so pleased to hear that you are considering the UX.
      A CatLoc will not be provided as standard. Our newer hybrids benefit from a lower level of precious metals in their catalytic converters, making them less attractive to thieves.
      It is for this reason that there is no CatLoc available for the UX.
      However, you can have Smartwater marking added to your vehicle, which allows stolen catalytic converters to be traced to a specific crime and helps police in their attempts to fight the organised gangs responsible.
      Please speak to your nearest Lexus Centre for more information.
      Thanks.

  4. Hi, I was wondering why the 2021 Lexus IS is not coming to the UK? I’ve driven an 3rd gen IS300h for three years and its by far one of the best cars I’ve had. The ES is too large / impractical for my needs and the UX and NX don’t drive as I would want them, I really was waiting for the next IS and can’t believe it’s not coming to UK, I don’t understand why not.

    1. Hello Dean,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Roughly 80% of all Lexus models sold in Europe are now SUVs and the larger ES is outselling the current IS at a rate of around two-to-one, so the decision was made not to introduce this new IS model here.
      Apologies for any disappointment this has caused.
      Thanks.

  5. Hi, my Lexus ct200h converter was stolen by gang of thieves recently as the car was park on the driveway at around 23 hour, video recording was taken and they were so quick, took them less than 2minutes . Exhaus, alarm sensor and front grill were cut and damaged. I am very angry that I have to pay for the security plate to be fitted n excess to the insurance company plus loosing my no claim bonus.

    1. Hello Kim, we’re very sorry to hear this. Your local Lexus Centre will be able to get the damage rectified and source a replacement part for you. The catalytic converter can now also be marked free of charge, which is a new process helping to deter thieves. Thanks.

  6. Dear Sir,
    I got Lexus RX400h of 2008 and I am also been the catalytic converter theft last night. Surprisingly the theft been done from the locked communal garage of our block. I surely going to report this to police and the property management. As you said you are selling the part at dealership at cost price, so I am going to call the local dealership about fitting this part. Any idea about the cost of replacing this part for my Lexus?

    1. Hello Rizwan, thank you for your comment.

      We’re sorry to hear that you have been a victim of this crime. Your local Lexus Centre will be able to discuss the pricing of the replacement catalytic converter and also provide information on preventative measures. In addition to a Catloc, we now provide a smartwater marking service which allows tracing of the part. Thanks.

  7. Hi I have purchased a Lexus GS450H 2014 MODEL .Where is the CC located and is it a high risk it can be stolen

    1. Hello Kam,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      Please can you provide us with your UK registration? We can then look into this with our technical team.
      Thanks.

        1. Hello Kam,
          Thank you for your reply.
          We have emailed our response to you as it contained a diagram, which is not supported on our blog.
          Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *