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. I had ours sawn off from our 2007 RX400 last Saturday at a tescos car park. Witnesses gave a description but police aren’t investigating further. Even when we get it back o no longer feel safe to use it as it seems inevitable it will happen again.

    1. Hi Nicky,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We are 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 put you in touch with our customer relations team who will be able to discuss your case in more detail.

      Thanks.

  2. The catalytic converter on my ct200h was stolen last night from my work car park. I can’t believe Lexus aren’t doing more to protect their customers. I spoke to the local Lexus dealer this morning who told me that this is becoming more and more common and you can see from other forums that this has been a know problem for months. Yet Lexus still don’t have any catlocs available for any of their models. If your going to use parts with precious metals, why haven’t you put measures in place to secure them and stop them from being stolen in first place! It’s like walking around the underground with your phone hanging out your back pocket, your just asking for trouble.
    Also the quote I got was Over £1000 for parts and labour. Is this £750 deal only available for RX400h models or do other models qualify? The dealer has no idea of any offers available.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us. We are so sorry you have been impacted by this crime. Please be aware that costs may vary depending on the extent of any damage that may have been caused as the catalytic converter was removed.

      In order to help you further, we will email you directly so that we can put you in touch with our customer relations team.

      Thanks.

  3. I had mine stolen in september and just had it replaced today. However my dealer was not aware of the £750 and they charged me £800. they said Lexus charged almost £750 for the part and they only put £60 for labour. As my insurance wouldn’t sort it out due to delay, I paid it at my own expense. Can I get a refund £50?
    Also it is still not secure and risk getting stolen again. Is Lexus doing something to get these secured….

  4. Why is it taking customers becoming victims for words about this to get out. What is Lexus doing to help customers who are now victims and continue to be vulnerable to repetitive attacks. I have just been told I will loose my NCB after paying an excess of £400 for being a victim of theft. Oh I also have to source for a replacement because I chose a Lexus for peace of mind. I don’t see no peace of mind if I am driving around with a precious metal underneath my car. So my family and I do not have a car for the Christmas period. We do not even know when we can get our hands on a CAT or how long before it gets stolen again. This, is devastating!😣

    1. Hi Elvis,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime and for the distress this may have caused. We are doing all we can to help our customers who have been impacted by this situation and we will email you directly in order to put you in touch with our customer relations team.

      Thanks.

  5. Ok it appears that I original post wasn’t posted. I had my CAT stolen several days ago -2009 RX400h – it’s been nothing short of a nightmare ever since. I phoned lexus – twickenham to speak with a David Biscoe – who hasn’t returned my call…customer are manager – just to shed some light on what I am supposed to do – we have one car – rely on this one car – and have been severely let down by Lexus.

    Came across this chat ..

    No parts – no valid responses from the service / parts department apart from we have no dates / no information / no advice?! This should normally have been part of a recall…..Lexus had advance info on this and refused to write to all concerned..hence all your responses above…

    As your customer relations manager in twickenham is not calling back, can I be put in touch with someone offering further advice?

    1. Hi Asad,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us about this and we apologise for the delay in our response. We are so sorry to hear you have been a victim of this crime. We will email you directly regarding gaining additional details in order for us to open a customer relations case on your behalf. Our team are best placed to discuss your situation with you in more detail and determine how we can best support you further.

      Thanks.

  6. I had my Cat stolen today from my CT200 in broad daylight parked on a suburban street. The car alarm even went off and it still did not deter the thieves. I also have an RX400h that I am now very worried about. I will phone around tomorrow to see what can be done, however after reading all of these posts I do not have a lot of hope or faith in any of the process. What to do. Total despair. I have only had the car a few months and love it, but this is put a real dampener on it. Lexus please help.

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are so sorry you have been impacted by this crime and for the distress it may have caused. We are working to support our customers in any way we can. With this in mind, we will email you directly in order to gain additional details and open a customer relations case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  7. I’ve just been made aware by my sister that someone has cut-off and stolen her cat converter on her 2009 rx400h hybrid overnight! She is shocked and appalled considering she had it service by Lexus in May and was not made aware of how vulnerable the car was to such a crime! She purchased the Lexus due to its known reliability and customer care so you can imaging how disappointed she is when this known issue was not flagged to her at her last visit to the dealership?! She still trying to process the fact she’s been a victim of such a crime hence who do I need to contact in Lexus to get her car back on the road???

    1. Hi Asim,

      Thanks for your message. We are incredibly sorry you have been impacted by this situation. Your sister will be able to find our customer relations contact details via this link: https://www.lexus.co.uk/concierge-tool/contact-us/

      Alternatively, we will email you directly and if she can provide us with some additional details, we will be able to open the customer relations case on her behalf.

      Thanks.

  8. Looks like I might have been done as well. Had parked outside my surgery for 2 hours. On return loud noise from under the car. Have called RAC, but was browsing the net and found this thread.
    Can I drive home with the catalytic converter missing. RAC saying wait time is 3-4 hours.
    I presume, once they confirmed the frustration will be to have it repaired. Does insurance cover it

    1. Hi Munir,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are extremely sorry you have been a victim of this crime. In order for us to help you further, we will email you directly in order to gain additional details and open a customer relations case on your behalf. Our team are assessing each case on an individual basis and are best placed to discuss your situation in more detail.

      Thanks.

  9. We’ve own a 2006 RX400h for a few years now and we couldn’t be any happier with it. At least until last August when the catalytic was stolen from it. Fortunately our insurance company covered the cost of the repair, although we had to wait until more than 2 months until last week to get the car repaired. And hardly a week after the catalytic converter has been stolen once again – in fact just this morning – the very first time we have taken that car out of the garage.

    Again it seems that our insurance company will be covering the cost but we will have to wait months again to have the car fixed ( and god knows what our premium will be next year).

    To be honest once we get it back I will be scared of taking it anywhere, lit, dark, covered by cctv or not. Not sure what I am asking for here, but right now I am very frustrated, and I think Lexus should be doing more to help us.

    I’m very seriously thinking of selling the car if there is anyone interested in buying this type of car at the moment, my first option have always been another Lexus but I am now looking at safer options. In the meantime, what can I do my car safe once I get it back? Looking at this forum I can’t see the situation improving at all before we get the car back.

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thanks for contacting us. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime and for the distress this may have caused. Our customer relations team are working to assess each case on an individual basis in order to provide the best support we can to every customer who has been impacted by this. We will email you directly in order to gain additional details and open a case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  10. I had my cat stolen from rx 400h in October. Needed to walt 2 months for a new one. Stolen in broad daylight within 24h. There’s no way I will stick with this model.
    Is the cat on a 450h in the same physical position?

    1. Hi Georgia,

      Thanks for contacting us. We are incredibly sorry you have been a victim of this crime. Our customer relations team are best placed to discuss your queries and situation in more detail. We will email you directly regarding opening a case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

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