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.

628 comments

  1. The cat on my CT200h was stolen from a hotel car park with floodlighting and CCTV in December. The local garage has said that replacement parts are unavailable. We have been left without a car. Can Lexus advise how to get the required parts (cat and sensor)?

    1. Hello Jonathan,
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      We would recommend contacting your Lexus Centre to see what options are available for you CT200h.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions, we hope you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  2. Hi – Not sure if this question has been asked before: I have an NX 300 model (non hybrid). Is there a CAT lock available for this model? Thx.

  3. We have an RX450h and Cat theft is rife in Bournemouth at the moment, how much would a Catloc cost please, including fitting? Registration is DK04DEB.

    1. Hello Tim,
      Thank you for contacting Lexus.
      We would recommend contacting your Lexus Centre for further assistance with this.
      Thanks.

  4. Hi my one has been stolen this morning in broad daylight whilst walkers passed by watching them. I have the cctv footage but just wanted to know if that helped anyone in the past to actually catch the thieves?

    1. Hello Shaz,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We are really sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      We would recommend contacting the local police for further assistance.
      Thanks.

  5. I have a 2017 lexus is 300h . Wonder if i need to be worried about its cat and if so! How can i get it secured?
    Can you please assist?

  6. Dear Sir/madam,

    I had my catalytic converter stolen from a car park last week on my CT200H. I am really surprised by Lexus that cars have not been upgraded with locks for free considering it takes three minutes to steal it. I own two new Lexus’, one for myself and one for my wife and I am now seriously considering if I want to continue being a customer at all. I am that disappointed in the brand as this seems to be a well documented problem. I would have expected to have at least been provided the option to install the locks at my last service in February. My insurance has now classed this as MY fault because no third party can be traced to make a claim against. In my mind Lexus are responsible for inadequate design/upgrade and protecting my car. I look forward to your response. Regards, James

    1. Hello James,
      We are sorry to hear that you have been affected by this crime.
      All catalytic converters contain precious metals that can be attractive to thieves, regardless of manufacturer or age.
      Even with a CATLOC fitted, there is little that can be done to stop determined and brazen organised criminals using power tools to take what they want.
      Ultimately, this is a criminal issue and we’ve been working with and supporting the Police, both publicly and behind the scenes to help put a stop to this awful crime.
      Furthermore, our CATLOC is provided to customers at zero profit to Lexus UK.
      Thanks.

  7. I had my catalytic converter stolen from my lexus rx400h early hours Tuesday morning between 2am and 4am which is the times my security light came on they ring doorbell didn’t pick them up dont know how they managed that.
    My car is vital for me as I have 2 young children and my 90 year old mum who has many health issues and my husband who has had a stroke, living at my home so to have this done to my car is devastating as I need it incase if emergencies. I am now without a car that I desperately need.
    With such a high class car lexus/Toyota should be doing more to notify and help lexus owners.

    1. Hello Wendy,
      We are extremely sorry to hear that you have been affected by this horrible crime.
      We have tried to make sure that as many customers as possible have been informed through publishing police advice about the crime online as soon as it was received.
      Furthermore, we have written to our dealer network to inform customers and writing directly to vehicle owners where details have been available to do so.
      Ultimately, this is a criminal issue, and we working with various agencies, including the Police, to try to put a stop to it.
      Once again, we are very sorry that this has happened to you and hope you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

  8. Binu: My lexus ct 200’s catylic convertor was stolen on parking on Basingstoke Train station car park . I had contacted and registered police , now it has been told by lexus and my insurance provider nothing can be done as of now.

    Please advise.

    1. Hi Binu,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. We recommend ordering a replacement catalytic converter for your vehicle. Your nearest Lexus centre will also be able to talk you through theft deterrent devices.

      Thanks

  9. I had my catalytic converter stolen from my Lexus CT200h on Tuesday 3 / May around midnight. The car alarm did go off twice . Unfortunately I couldn’t hear it as my flat is on the other side . But a member of public did hear and saw three men were there lifting the car and thought they were stealing the car tyres. I was in shock because I had never heard of this crime before. I agree completely with some comments that Lexus garages should have advised theirs customers of this risk when we take our cars to be serviced as this crime has been going on for a number of years and is still happening now . Anyway, I reported the incident to the police on line . 24 hours later, I had a reply from the police with a crime reference and I was informed that “ there are no enquiries we can make and this investigation has been closed “. No wonder that such incident can not be prevented ! Luckily, my insurer was very supportive, as well as local Lexus garage , who will get my car repaired this coming week. I am also thinking of fitting the cat lock. Please advise whether this will make the car noisier than before ?

    1. Hi,

      We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by criminals. We hope you are back on the road soon. A Catloc will not impact the driving experience of your vehicle, but it may deter thieves from targeting your vehicle in the future.

      Thanks

  10. i am extremely disappointed with Lexus, knowing this crimes happening Lexus owner, Catalytic converter got stolen from front of my driveway
    Lexus has duty of care to their customers protection against this type of crime, not tell us work with police – we know this
    you are happy to charge customers for a Anti Theft plate over £150 this should be provided free of charge it not our fault that it so easy to remove – it coat me over £1000 to replace – i will NEVER buy Lexus again – i am planning to sell this car , as i do not they might take Catalytic converter – I am so angry with Lexus -stop giving advice and do some
    this cars should be recalled and fitted with protection Gard for FREE
    ALL LEXUES OWNERS PLEASE SUPPORT ME WITH –

    1. Hello Kamal,
      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re 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, but 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 hope you are back on the road soon.
      Thanks.

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