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. Hy, my Lexus rx400h was done today at the front door of B&Q. It didn’t take them minutes as they cut it off at 2 p.m. when loads of people were going in and out. I can’t believe they have done it so quick. Is this £750 valid for Lexus Swindon as well?? They made no damage whatsoever…there are 2 clean cuts on the exhaust and the cat. converter is missing. It s a shame I can’t attach the photos to my comment!

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime. Our customer relations team are best placed to discuss your case and any queries you may have in more detail. We will email you directly in order to gain additional details and open a case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  2. I had mine stolen yesterday and my local Lexus garage is quoting £1,200 ??

    What is the official policy and what process do I need to follow to get this sorted ?

    MikeW

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime. To help you further, we will email you directly in order to gain additional details and open a customer relations case on your behalf with our team. They will be able to answer any queries you may have and work to support you in any way we can.

      Thanks.

  3. just to add to the above. i live in a london borough and like one of the parties above had the individual on camera it took 5 mins to remove but expect £100s to now replace and fit. surely a catlock. it happened in the early hours of this morning.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your message. We are deeply sorry to hear about this. We would like to help you further by putting you in touch with our customer relations team. We will email you directly to discuss this and open a case on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  4. So after getting my car back for 2 weeks after having the original cat stolen, it has just been stolen again! What more can I do? I’m parking it in front of every cctv camera available! Hurry up Lexus! We need a solution!

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your message. We are so sorry you have been a victim of this crime for a second time and for the distress this may have caused. Our customer relations team are best equipped to help you further and we will email you directly regarding opening a case with our team on your behalf.

      Thanks.

  5. I had my stolen too in September. After waiting three months, on the same day I brought the car home within less than 24 hours it was stolen again. After having no claim with my insurance now I have lost two years! I am so frustrated considering I have been driving Lexus cars for few decades now. Unfortunately I am so upset I have no other option but to buy some German car as a replacement! My car now is still in garage but to be honest I really don’t want to have it back as it will only get stolen again so I have to sell it somehow for few pound if I am lucky. It is not Lexus fault but unless you find protection I am out of your life for good, such a shame though!

    1. Hello. Thank you for contacting us on Friday and apologies for the delayed reply. We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle was targeted by thieves and understand the frustration this must be causing. The automotive industry is very concerned with the recent sharp rise in the organised theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in the UK by criminal gangs. Our first priority is to do all we can to support our customers who have been victims of this crime. If you wish to raise this with our Customer Relations Team, you can use this link: https://fal.cn/35K1W Thank you.

  6. Today discovered my RX400h had been targeted for its catalytic converter, stuffed our plans for Christmas and New Year. More concerning though is reading through the above comments seems like we’re now in a pretty poor situation even if I could get it fixed within the next two months, it’s as vulnerable as it was before and thieves know where our Lexus is so likely be back again! Surprised there was no word of warning from Lexus as to the problem nor notice given of the repair deal. Please can you let me know the process ford getting it sorted asap – my local Lexus dealer is in Twickenham and seems they’ve gone to ground according to other commentators on here so an alternative would be appreciated.

    1. Hello Sharon. Thank you for contacting us on Saturday and apologies for the delayed reply. We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and understand the frustration this must be causing. The automotive industry is very concerned with the recent sharp rise in the organised theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in the UK by criminal gangs. Our first priority is to do all we can to support our customers who have been victims of this crime. If you wish to raise this with our Customer Relations Team, you can use this link: https://fal.cn/35K1W Alternatively, for details of your next closest Lexus Centre, please click here: https://fal.cn/35K28 Thank you.

      1. I’ll be in touch with your Customer Relations Team but for the sake of public information, can you confirm how long it will be before Lexus deliver a real solution for their customers rather than supporting the insurance companies and garage owners who in effect are repairing the same cars over and over again? Currently the lower cost of parts is of benefit only to the insurance company as I still have to pay the £450 excess charge and lost my no claims discount. RX400h owners are stuffed without a realistic solution and given how long this issue has been known, it seems to be a very low priority for Lexus. No matter how good the cars may be, they are currently worthless because of the unpredictability of keeping it on the road long enough before the cc is stolen again. Please with all the technology and design experience you have, give us a practical solution to protect our property and the Lexus brand.

        1. Hi Sharon,

          Thanks for your message. We appreciate this may not be the answer you are hoping for, but at this time we can not confirm any specifics. Please be aware we are urgently working to find new technical solutions whilst also supporting all of our customers who have been impacted by this situation. We will be keeping this blog post up to date with any new information we have to share.

          Thanks.

  7. I’ve just gone out to find my cat’s been stolen when the car was parked on my driveway under security lights & CCTV. I can’t wait to find out how much this is going to cost. The repair price seems to be going up & up. I’m guessing this will become a regular event if it’s that quick & easy to complete.

    1. Hello. Thank you for your message. We are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves and understand the frustration this must be causing. The automotive industry is very concerned with the recent sharp rise in the organised theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in the UK by criminal gangs. Our first priority is to do all we can to support our customers who have been victims of this crime. If you wish to raise this with our Customer Relations Team, you can use this link: https://fal.cn/35K2s Thank you.

  8. I am a owner of a Rx400 and I was targeted by criminal what can I do to protect my car from thief can the converter replace with a modern one that is less attractive to thief ?

    1. Hello Errol, we are very sorry to hear that your vehicle has been targeted by thieves. We understand the frustration and distress this must be causing, the automotive industry is very concerned with the recent sharp rise in the organised theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in the UK by criminal gangs. Our first priority is to do all we can to support our customers who have been victims of this crime. We would suggest contacting the Customer Relations department and discuss how they can assist you: https://fal.cn/35K2s

  9. I asked Lexus about the 2020 RX450H. I was told that there should not be a problem as the catalytic convertor on this model only contains 14% of the valuable metals that is found in the RX400

  10. My catalytic converter was stolen in a retail park whilst I popped into the shop for less than 20 minutes yesterday. Car was bought to help my disabled mum, now I’m hit with claiming on MY insurance paying the excess out of MY pocket, whist these thieves get away with it as no-one gets prosecuted. Apparently my wait is going to be 3-5 months! Lexus I agree with many posts above, what you doing to help your customers? You should be recalling the affected cars and fitting some sort of mechanism to prevent this from happening at your cost. Innocent people trying to drive more environmentally friendly cars only to be left stranded when these scumbags target you. I’ve been told that even when you get a replacement catalyst converter, it will just get stolen once again, so what is the answer Lexus?

    Great new year, thanks for targeting the vulnerable!

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we apologise for the delay in our response. We are incredibly sorry you have been impacted by this crime and for the distress this may have caused. We deeply appreciate your concerns and we are working to support all our customers who have been impacted by this. We will email you directly regarding opening a customer relations case on your behalf as our team are able to track parts and are best placed to answer any questions you may have.

      Thanks.

      1. I had my cat stolen today and came on this site to see if anything could be done by Lexus and i have read some of the other comments and reply’s it would seem that Lexus are not doing anything about this problem but directing victims to the nearest Lexus garage to get a new one fitted to be stolen again.
        The reply from Lexus on this site seem to be automated saying the same thing with no solution. why have Lexus not recalled all potential victims and fitted a plate to the underside of the cars ( I have seen that there is a big business in fitting these on the open market and it would give some piece of mind).
        I am at the moment considering if i am to keep this car and spend the hundreds of pounds to make it safe or to cut my losses and get rid off?

        1. Hi Roger,
          Thanks for your comment.
          We can assure you that this is not an automated reply.
          We have produced and are supplying CatLocs at zero profit for vehicles considered most at risk and have engaged with many different organisations in order to try and raise the profile of the crime.
          However, criminals are very brazen and determined in this crime.
          You can contact our customer relations team if you wish to discuss your specific situation further, here: https://www.lexus.co.uk/concierge-tool/contact-us/
          We are truly sorry for any distress that has been caused by this crime.
          Thanks.

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