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.

620 comments

  1. My cat was stolen in broad daylight a couple of weeks ago (got them on cctv). According to my insurance company the spare part will not be here till mid-January at the earliest. My chief concern now is what I do once it has been replaced. Wait around till they come and take it away again (which they will, to be sure)? My car is effectively useless and possibly unsaleable (except to someone far away from London). So what can you advise us Lexus? BTW my local dealer hadn’t known about the £750 offer above and I had to email him the link! My car has been the most comfortable and reliable car I have ever owned in decades of driving and owning cars. I love it but am at a loss. Please help us.

    1. Hi Martin,

      Thanks for contacting us. We are so sorry your car has been targeted by criminals. We will email you directly in order to put you in touch with our customer relations team who will be able to support you further.

      Thanks.

    2. I am in exactly the same position. We have waited over a month for a new cat converter from Lexus but what’s the point as the inevitability of it being stolen again is close to 100% and whichever way you park the car it is so easy to get too.
      Lexus please reach out and give me some advice/reassurance etc

      1. Hi Jeremy,

        Thanks for getting in touch. We are sorry you have been a victim of this crime and that you have been waiting so long for a replacement. Our customer relations team are able to track replacement parts and as such, we would like to open a case on your behalf. We will email you directly regarding this.

        Thanks.

  2. Just had our cat cut out in broad daylight at Aylesbury aqua vale swimming pool while taking our 2yr old granddaughter swimming. So so upsetting! We have a 2008 RX400h. Do the cats have a serial number stamped on them which I can add to the police report?
    How long is the delay in getting a replacement?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Adrian,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are so sorry for the distress this situation has caused you and your family. In order to answer your query, we will need to gain some additional details from you and put you in touch with our customer relations team who are working to support all our customer impacted by this crime. We will email you directly regarding this.

      Thanks.

  3. I have a 2008 RX 400h and I have had my catalytic converter stolen twice now, the second time the stole it within 4 days of it being returned to me by Lexus. Does anyone know how to stop these Son’s Of Bi*%H!@ what can I buy?

    1. Hi there,

      Thank you for getting in touch. We are incredibly sorry you have been a victim of this crime. We will email you directly in order to put you in touch with our customer relations team who will be able to support you further.

      Thanks.

    2. This is terrible to read. I had mine stolen 2 weeks ago and if it gets repairs I will be selling the car immediately. Surely Lexus can come up with a way to prevent these thefts when the stolen part is replaced. I love my old Lexus but I will have to sell it as I cannot go through another theft.

  4. My cat was stolen between last night and early hours this morning! I took it to Lexus and was told to take it to a garage and get them to weld a pipe to dampen the noise. Oh and also said that they have no cats until February 2020 at a push and it will cost £700. I feel disappointed that these low lifes have stolen something that I feel will only be sold back to me (via Ebay or other party) at double the price! I am disturbed that the alarm did not go off! I managed to get it to a garage and they have done a temporary fix but again this has cost me as not even the garage could order any cats because they are in such demand.

    1. Hi there,

      Thank you for contacting us. We are incredibly sorry you have been a victim of this crime and for the distress this may have caused. We will email you directly in order to gain additional details and open customer relations case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  5. My Cat has been removed today. Car has been parked on my driveway .Hope Lexus will rush with help. But currently I could not see any solution than have custom build lock

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime. We will email you directly in order to discuss your situation further and put you in touch with our customer relations team.

      Thanks.

  6. My 2009 Lexus RX400H had its cat convertor stolen on 13/09/19. As of 12/11/19, I am still waiting on the garage used by my insurance company to source a replacement. Can you let me know what my options are regarding sourcing a replacement cat convertor are and protecting it from another theft ?

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us about this situation. We are so sorry to hear about this and we will contact you directly in order to put you in touch with our customer relations team.

      Thanks.

  7. Hi, Just had the catalytic converter stolen from my RX400. There is a 2 month wait for a Lexus part or a 10 day wait for a non-genuine part. Luckily I have a courtesy car through my car insurance but I am not sure about which option to take as I am not an expert on catalytic converters! Can you please advise what you would recommend

    Appreciate the help
    Chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime. Our customer relations team will be able to support you further with this and we will contact you directly regarding this.

      Thanks.

  8. I too had my catalytic converter stolen 2 weeks ago. I asked a question about which makes of Lexus RX hybrid that are not vulnerable to these thefts. I have not had a response. So much for customer service. May be I am better off looking elsewhere for a replacement car. My RX IS 2007. I await a response please.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime, and we are also sorry if you haven’t been responded to. Regarding your question, in theory any car with a catalytic converter is at risk of theft.

      Our customer relations team are working to support all our customers who have been impacted by this and with that in mind we will email you directly in order to open a case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  9. I have an RX400h 2006 and the Catalytic Converter was stolen at the end of last month. Luckily, as a good will gesture my insurance have covered the cost of a replacement, but as of today’s date I am driving a hire car. In all honesty, i dont really want the Lexus back now as I’m 100% certain that it’s going to get stolen again! It’s giving me anxiety just thinking about the prospect. My husband had parked it outside my daughters gymnastics club – only to find that when they returned that the Cat had been stolen. Those thieving monsters left my husband and young daughter stranded!
    Little did they know thought that the gym had security camera’s and caught them on camera 🙂

    I just spoke to the repair garage and asked them to replace it with a catalytic converter that doesn’t contain the desired metals and they told me that the insurance company wont reimburse them for the cost and that the best that they can advise is for me to call Lexus so that they can supply a lockable cover – but after reading the comments above, I can see that that is obviously not true.

    If Lexus could please contact me to let me know what alternative there is available to the lockable cover i would really appreciate it.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are incredibly sorry you have been a victim of this crime and for the distress this may have caused your family. We will email you directly in order to put you in touch with our customer relations team who will be best placed to help with your queries.

      Thanks.

      1. Is there a lock available and would it make a difference? Why not give answers to some of these questions online so the rest of the Lexus user community can benefit? Which models and what year cars have been targeted the most? What other precautions can one take – for example park the car in a certain way – say against a wall front facing etc – to make it difficult for the thieves to steal the Cat converters. What other car makes are targeted?

        1. Hi Dipak,

          Thanks for getting in touch with us. We are directing customers to our customer relations team as they are assessing each case on an individual basis in order to provide the best support we can. We don’t currently have a Catloc available, however please be aware are urgently looking into other technical possibilities.

          In theory, any hybrid car with a catalytic converter is at risk of theft, particularly as criminals are using high-grade power tools to remove them. For further advice on how to protect your car, at the beginning of this blog post we have linked in Police advice on precautions that can be taken when parking your car.

          Thanks.

        2. Just had my catalyst converter stolen by thieves. Is there any measures Lexus have put I place to stop this from happening again. My wife is heavily pregnant and our car is the only option for her to carry out the school run. Now she cannot commute and have to spend a best amount of money to travel back and forth whilst we get the catalyst replaced. Help us Lexus this is appalling. STOP this thieves from having easy access to all catalyst on Lexus brands.

          1. Hello Michael,
            We are sorry to hear that you have been affected by this horrible crime.
            Currently, we produce CatLocs for vehicles considered most at risk, but criminals are using high-grade power tools that are difficult for any manufacturer to completely protect against.
            Please be aware we are constantly monitoring this situation and are doing all we can to support our customers that have been impacted by this horrible crime.
            Once again, we are sorry that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and for the distress that this crime has caused.
            Thanks.

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