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.

606 comments

  1. I became aware of the Lexus Catloc and as a result of the increase in the theft of CC I decided to have the device fitted to my RX450 when it went in for its service back in June 2021.
    When I picked up my vehicle I became aware of a knocking noise every time I pulled away, and this was from the CC striking the Catloc plate, so I contacted my Lexus service department and was told to return the vehicle to them for examination.
    This I did, and as a result was informed that there was nothing that they could do for me, and that I was unable to have a refund and that the Catloc could be removed at my loss.
    I sent an email to Lexus UK and they replied saying that they did not deal with this type of matter directly, but referred it back to my dealership.
    I was then contacted by my dealership and informed that they were aware of this problem, and that they were working on a fix to the problem.
    To date I have contacted Lexus UK my email again and my dealership by phone on three occasions, and still I have not had a satisfactory solution to the problem.
    As I said in my last email to Lexus UK, the noise as I pull away is very embarrassing and not a good advert for the brand name of Lexus.
    I have asked, either solve it or remove the Catloc and give me a refund, I am still waiting for a responce.

    1. Hello Colin,
      Thank you for contacting Lexus.
      We can see that you currently have a case open with our Customer Relations team.
      Please continue to liaise with them. We hope this is resolved as soon as possible.
      Thanks.

  2. I have had my catalytic converter stolen from my 3 year old Lexus CT, and the front grill damaged.
    The cost of repair is circa £2000, and I am reluctant to claim on my insurance because of the subsequent hike in premiums.
    Theft reported to local police, but it is clearly not a priority judging by the fact that I have had no follow up to an email of 6 weeks ago.
    I have no choice other than kerbside parking, and this sorry tale brings into question any future purchase of Lexus, unless a solution can be found by the manufacturer or dealers.

    1. Hello Gwilym,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      We are really sorry to hear that you’ve been affected by this crime.
      As catalytic converters contain precious metals, any car containing one is in theory at risk of theft.
      Over time, we have reduced the precious metal content of our catalytic converters by up to 84% and currently produce CatLocs for vehicles considered most at risk, including your CT 200h.
      Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by these brazen thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.
      Thanks.

  3. I had my cc stolen last night right in front of my husband’s eye (he just shouted but not confronted, which didn’t deter the 3 men a bit). I read through the comments and I saw the recent CT cc being fitted at Lexus dealership around 1300£, in late 2019 it seemed being 750£, my local dealership told me at my latest MOT in mid Sep 2021 told me it would cost 1800£! What is the price for replacement at the moment really? I sure can’t afford that much plus if I want to fit the catlock this time which apparently 250£. I am reluctant to have it covered by insurance as it will spike the premium next year. I saw on eBay that it can be bought around 450-500£. I wonder if I just order one and have it fitted by local garage…. Can’t you do something with that price???

    1. Hello Chika,
      Thank you for contacting Lexus.
      We are really sorry to hear that you’ve been affected by this crime.
      The price of the Catalytic Converter can only be advised by a Lexus Centre as it depends on the extent of the damage and then the labour required to fix this.
      The difference in price for repairs is due to the way thieves steal the catalytic converter; they can cause more damage to other parts of the car as they forcibly remove it, often in a rush.
      Once again, we are sorry that you have been affected by this crime and we hope you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  4. Just had my cc stolen associated with grill, alarm and damage.
    Informed Lexus HO and awaiting their response.
    I am surprised to know now that this is a common problem. Lexus should have fitted extra precautions or l wish Lexus had told me about this risk so l could have taken the appropriate steps.
    Stuck without a car now.
    Any urgent advise or action l should take?
    Kind Regards
    Naren

    1. Hello Naren, we’re very sorry to hear this.

      If you haven’t already, please report this theft to the police. Your local Lexus Centre will also be able to help source a new part and discuss preventative measures.

      Thanks.

  5. Hello, does my 2004 Lexus GX470 contain a catalytic converter? If so, what protection strategies would you recommend? Is a Catloc available for my vehicle? Thanks!

    1. Hello Jeff,
      Thank you for contacting Lexus.
      The Lexus GX is not a car we have ever sold in the UK, therefore we do not have any information on this.
      Please contact your nearest Lexus Centre for further assistance.
      Thanks.

  6. I had my Catalyst stolen from my Lexus CT 200H last Thursday 11th Nov in the morning at about 4:00 am by 4 men, as witnessed by my neighbour who woke up on the sound of the car alarm. They also bashed the front grill of the car with baseball bats, perhaps to stop the alarm. The protection of this vital part of the car is a serious design fault and it should not left exposed for it to be removed by a thief within one minute! I trusted Lexus on QUALITY! This incident has caused me and my daughter considrable stress, as we were getting ready to go to work. This crime has already been reported to Police and I do hope they will be able to find those nasty criminals. I do hope Lexus will take seriuos steps to protect this most loved brand.

    1. Hello Marwan,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      We are sorry your vehicle has been targeted by thieves.
      This crime is being perpetrated by organised criminal gangs using power tools, and we are working with the police and various other agencies to put a stop to it.
      We have developed theft prevention devices for our customers and these are available from Lexus centres.
      Once again, we are really sorry about the distress this has caused and we hope you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  7. Had the Catalytic converter stolen off my 18 plate CT on November 12th. Thieves broke the grill and tampered with wires (assuming that was for the alarm?). It is an absolute joke that more has not been done by manufacturers about this issue. Saying sorry a hundred times and telling people all cars are vulnerable is appaling to be honest. It should never be that easy to cut somebodies alarm, it essentially renders it pointless! Also why are cars not being fitted with better protection?! I.e all your cars should be fitted with a catlock as standard, you have a responsibility to ensure customers cars are safe from problems that they can do little about. I have never had an issue with Lexus before, but the attitude towards this whole theft crisis has ensured I won’t be a returning customer. You are kidding yourselves if you think anybody believes you are not profitting somewhere along the line from the replacement of these parts. i have had to go through my insurance to do deal with this, have to be £750 excess, lost my NCB , and my premium will be extortionate on renewal.

    1. Hello Jack,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      As catalytic converters contain precious metals, any car containing one is in theory at risk of theft.
      Criminals are using high-grade power tools that are difficult for any manufacturer to completely protect against.
      Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.
      We would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team directly if you wish to escalate this. You can do so here – https://fal.cn/3hJ9G.
      Thanks.

  8. I am absolutely devastated. My previous car was involved in an accident and I got it replaced last week with a Lexus CT200h. Today, I have noticed a loud sound as I was about to go for my first real ride and after checking the car out I have noticed the catalytic converter has been stolen. I am speechless. After spending a lot of money on a car I didn’t even get a chance to drive yet, I have to deal with a repair bill as well now. If I get my insurance involved it will affect my NCB as well as future insurance cost. Regardless of what I do, I am the one who is beeing punished. The theft has happend in North London between the 17th and 19th November.

    1. Hello Claudia,
      We are sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      Please be aware we are constantly monitoring this situation and are doing all we can to support our customers that have been impacted.
      We have also developed and are supplying theft deterrent devices at zero profit to Lexus UK such as CatLocs, tilt alarms, and bolt cap to help protect customers from further attacks.
      However, it is very difficult for any manufacturer to fully protect against determined criminal gangs using power tools.
      If you would like to raise your situation further, we would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team directly. You can do this here – https://fal.cn/3hJ9G.
      Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.
      Thanks.

  9. Just had out cat stolen from our CT200….off the drive
    Does anyone know if the cat can be removed by lifting the back of the car? i.e. if we parked facing a wall would that stop, or slow down, any future theft? Or doesn’t it matter if the front or back is lifted?
    ….I was just wondering if the cat was too far forwards and as such it had to be the front of the vehicle that had to be lifted

    1. Hi,
      It doesn’t matter which ever way you are parking your car. The thrives use hydraulic jack to lift the car and its gone within a few minutes. The best way to protect cc is to get it marked & cc lock. I had my stolen last month. Just had my car back. You can also pay extra Insurance premium to protect your NCB. I claimed mine through insurance.

      Hope this helps.

  10. Have just had my cat stolen for the second time even with a Lexus fitted Catloc within 14 months of the first incident. Only solution ditch Lexus Hybrid.

    1. Hello Romeo,
      We are really sorry to hear about this.
      Criminals are using high-grade power tools that are difficult for any manufacturer to completely protect against.
      Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.
      If you would like to raise your situation further, we would recommend contacting our Customer Relations team directly. You can do so here – https://fal.cn/3hJ9G
      Thanks.

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