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. will my engine management light come on if my Cat has been stolen and replaced ?? its on and has been since my cat was replaced after being stolen

    1. Hello Jules,
      Thank you for contacting Lexus.
      We would recommend taking your vehicle to your nearest Lexus Centre.
      They will be able to physically diagnose the reason that your engine light has come on.
      Thanks.

  2. Just contacted my local lexus centre to see if I can buy a cat lock for my Lexus 400RH, as the catalytic converter was stolen on dec 21, 2021,, only to be told that they have discontinued them for this model and the only deterrent they are offering is the smart water system,, surely if you discontinue the production of a cat lock , which would add minutes to the process of actually stealing your catalytic converter, why would you then only off the Smatwater,,which is an inscription of your reg n cat number, therefore not much of a deterrent to any thief,,??? So what are 400RH owners supposed to do,,continually replace these converters only for them to be stolen again and again???

    1. Hello Sheila,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Smartwater marking means 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.
      We hope this helps. However, if you wish to raise your case further, you can contact our Customer Relations team here – https://fal.cn/3hJ9G
      Thanks.

  3. Kindly assist. (1) My mechanic just fix the catalyst for my Lexus RX350 (2007) model which was confirmed to have been stolen. After fixing it, I bought an OBDII car scanner and the results shows “Catalyst system efficiency below threshold (Bank1). I got back to my mechanic and he said he fixed the catalyst for RX300. Can the same calalyst be uses for RX300 and RX 350? Can you give me a proper guide on this. (2) The dashboard has always shown the tires are having issues. What are the steps I can take on this. Thanks

  4. Hi,
    My CT’s CatCon was stolen 3 nights ago middle of the night and we saw the perpetrators with knives and long metal sticks ready to fight anyone on their way. Me and my family have lost sleep since then. There is no point of commenting on why people steal someone else’s property as this is something which has been going on since the dawn of humanity. We called the police and they didn’t even turn up. Next day the police officer called me and bluntly told me there is nothing they could do about it, I said I saw the car, could you not follow the trail through the CCTVs in the area. Her response was that those cameras belong to the council, half of them not working and for the other half the councils are not sharing them with the police. Could there be a more ridiculous answer than that, not even trying to make an effort.
    The question is what manufacturers are doing about it? absolutely nothing efficient to the benefit of the customers. How many police officers are actively checking hundreds of scarp yards premises, ebay and online sales, dodgy mechanic shops for tags on stolen CatCon? they don’t even have resources nor the will to investigate it, as they assume it is covered by the insurance or the miserable customer will replace it. And so what if after going through all the stress and cost of replacing it, six months down the line police bring me back my traceable CatCon, what do I do with it? how does a traceable tag deters criminals from stealing CatCons, surely many of these stolen pieces may not even be used in the UK.
    Throughout the previous comment you have heard the malfunction and nocking sound of so called CatLock, which only delays the thieves a bit and not preventing it.
    If I walk on the street showing off a gold necklace hanging around my neck and someone grabs it and steals it, is it not partially my fault?
    I am now £450 out of pocket and my premium will go up next year.
    Lexus and all those manufacturers who have installed a valuable piece of equipment in such an easy reach, which could be nicked in 2min have a lot to answer. They have made no efforts to compensate costumers or come up with a viable solution.
    I am very upset, stressed, scared and feel insecure for as long as I have this Lexus, I have since been actively searching for a car without this vulnerability.
    I wonder if there is anything in Law that partially makes the manufacturer responsible????

    1. Hello Amir,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      Firstly, we are unable to comment on decisions made by external parties such as the police.
      Secondly, Lexus UK is working with police and Smartwater, which manufactures police-approved marking kits, to provide 100,000 kits to owners for free.
      The markings, which are invisible, mean a stolen catalytic converter can be traced to a specific crime, helping police in their attempts to fight the organised gangs responsible.
      Furthermore, over time we have reduced the precious metal content of our catalytic converters by up to 84%. This means that the catalytic converters are less attractive to thieves.
      However, all catalytic converters contain these precious metals and criminals are using high-grade power saws to remove the catalyst, so in reality they are as easy to remove from any vehicle. The design is not so relevant.
      Once again, we apologise 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.

  5. My catalytic converter was stolen last weekend and I finally heard back today about getting a replacement. They quoted £1058 just for the part, so i’m a little confused why you’re saying you have reduced the price to not make any profit, yet you’re outsourcing parts to a company that will charge 2.5x the average price of buying one elsewhere?

    1. Hello Alex,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have 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.
      If you wish to raise your case further, you can do so by contacting our Customer Relations team here – https://fal.cn/3hJ9G
      Thanks.

    2. My cat converter was stolen broad daylight 19/02/22. My ct 200h was purchased and delivered to me on the 18/01/22. My insurance is currently sorting it out as i am yet to financially recover from the purchase itself. There is no way i am going back to any hybrid let alone a lexus/toyota one. The inconvenience of knowing that your property is a vulnerable target is not necessary at all. I will get a catloc fitted by lexus for the interim while put plans in place to get rid of the car for good.

      1. Hello Andrew,
        We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this horrible crime.
        It is difficult for any manufacturer to protect against determined criminals using power tools.
        Once again, we apologise for the distress this has caused and we hope you are back on the road soon.
        If there is anything we can do to assist you further at this time, please let us know.
        Thanks.

  6. Just had our Lexus Ct200h f sport cat stolen from a hospital carpark. It’s just cost £1500 to replace with Lexus! If Lexus say that’s cost.Not sure I believe you!

    1. Hello Roger,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have 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.
      Thanks.

  7. My catalytic converter on my ct200 advance was stolen after 10 days of purchase. Stiĺl paying for a hire car.
    I wish i had known of this issue as i would not have purchased this car.
    I checked on cat locs which reviews are saying are not effective so i am thinking of the cat clamp .
    What is you opinion on clamps rather than a cat loc.
    Are you arranging cost only price on the clamps?
    To be honest after reading reviews your efforts to overcome this issue do not help the owners financially and i dont have faith in marking the cat being of help to the victims of this crime.
    Deniz

    1. Hello Deniz,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      It is difficult for any manufacturer to protect against determined criminals using power tools.
      We do not have any information on Cat Clamps.
      Once again, we apologise for the distress this has caused and we hope you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  8. Hello what have Lexus done to make stealing of the catalytic converter harder on the all new 2022 Lexus NX 350h
    Thank you

    1. Hello Phillip,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Over time, we have reduced the amount of precious metal content in our catalytic converters by up to 84%.
      Therefore, newer vehicles catalytic converters are not as valuable and not “worth” stealing.
      We hope this helps.
      Thanks.

  9. I advice people not to buy Lexus hybrid vehicles (Toyota either) as they have designed their cars to be easily accessible by thieves, thus targeting your car and safety of you (and you family). My catalytic converter has been stolen off my drive by criminals, which hit my area and many other neighbours who drove Lexus. I am getting rid of my RX immediately and never buying Lexus ever again.

    Absolutely disgraceful that Lexus didn’t actually sort this out and I can see that this has been an ongoing issue since the RX400h was first introduced.

    Shocking form Lexus. The catalytic converters should be replaced FREE OF CHARGE by Lexus dealers due to their flaw in engineering!!!!!!

    What they tell you about new models is a lie, they are still being targeted due to ease of access to the converters!

    1. Hello Denis,
      Thank you for getting in touch, we are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this horrible crime,
      We can assure you that our cars have not been designed to be easily accessible by thieves.
      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.
      However, over time we have reduced the precious metal content of our catalytic converters by up to 84%, meaning that they are not worth stealing.
      Please be aware we are constantly monitoring this situation and are doing all we can to support our customers that have been impacted.
      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.

      1. Why don’t you fit catalytic convertor protection boxes as standard on all your cars, and retrofit them at a subsidised rate on older UK Lexuses? In the meantime, please advise how I arrange to have mine marked with Smartwater? Thanks,

        1. Hello Nick,
          Thank you for your feedback.
          Please contact your Lexus Centre for further assistance with this.
          Thanks.

  10. My cat converter was stolen from my GS 450h a few days ago in broad daylight, i am awaiting my insurer approved repairer to pick the car up for repairs, should j go with their approved reoairer or insist that repairs be done by Lexus as i have read that people have issues with their cars when its nog done be Lexus.

    1. Hello,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      We would recommend that the repairs are done by the Lexus Centre.
      However, we are unable to comment on the decisions made by your insurance company.
      Thanks.

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