Lexus UK statement on vehicle theft

We take the issue of Toyota and Lexus vehicle theft very seriously. We are continuously developing technical solutions to make our vehicles more secure, to help reduce the risk of theft.

An enhanced security hardware system was introduced in October 2021 on the latest models targeted by criminals. Since which, we have seen a significant drop in thefts of those models.

For older models, we endeavour to create solutions that can offer enhanced protection to our customers.  Following significant investments by Toyota GB, in line with that of other vehicle manufacturers, newly developed official Toyota and Lexus security hardware components will very soon be available to fit to those targeted models registered before October 2021.

Following communication from Lexus in the coming weeks, owners should contact their local dealer to arrange free of charge fitment. Customers can already speak to their local dealer about the fitment of a protective plate to block access to the vehicle’s electronics. This is a nationwide customer care offering.

As a vehicle manufacturer, we can never completely eliminate the risk of vehicle theft. This is an industry-wide issue, concerning all vehicle manufacturers and affecting the most popular models first.

In order to further reduce the theft risk, we regularly collaborate and share information with insurance associations, police and law enforcement authorities, theft prevention experts and other key stakeholders around the world. This enables us to understand new threats and techniques used by thieves and develop more secured systems. 

Alongside our efforts, we urge those authorities to focus on reducing the number of thefts. We would also like to see action taken that leads to the end to the online sale of devices used by criminals to steal cars without using the car keys, as these devices serve no purpose other than a criminal one.

How do thieves manage to steal cars this way?

The thieves disconnect part of the headlamp and use a malicious device to send signals to the control CAN bus (the communication ‘backbone’ within a car) that allow the doors to open and the car to start without the key or remote control.

Thieves need to:

  • Purchase a relatively expensive rogue device (third-party ‘emergency start’ device which costs around £2,500 – £4,000 each)
  • Gain physical access to the vehicle’s CAN bus communication wires for an uninterrupted period.

The third-party ‘emergency start’ device has the capability to initiate an exploit in the following manner:

  • Once connected to the vehicle’s CAN bus communication wires, the third-party ‘emergency start’ device can send a prioritised series of CAN signals to bypass the vehicle’s security and immobiliser systems, which could allow a thief to unlock the doors and turn the vehicle’s ignition ON.
  • The third-party ‘emergency start’ device is then disconnected.
  • At this point a thief can enter the vehicle and start the car without the key

What is Lexus doing to prevent these types of attacks?

Lexus takes the issue of car theft very seriously.  We are continuously developing technical solutions to make our vehicles more secure to help reduce the risk of theft.

In the UK market, an enhanced security hardware was introduced in October 2021 on the latest versions of the models that had previously been targeted by criminals. Since then, we have seen a significant drop-off in terms of successful thefts of those models.

For older models we endeavour to create solutions that can offer enhanced protection to our customers.  We cannot divulge the precise nature of the imminent security enhancement; should we do so we risk offering information into the public domain that could be of interest to criminal parties.

The intention is to make the security enhancement available to all vehicles where a countermeasure is available. 

In October 2021 (introduction of NG NX), a new security platform started to be rolled out. There are no reports of theft using the CAN bus injection method on any model with the new platform.

What models are known to be targeted by this issue and are newer models affected?

The model primarily targeted is the Lexus RX Gen 4. Other models have also been targeted.

Which Lexus models can be fitted with the enhanced security feature?

It can be fitted to previous generation RX, NX, plus ES, LC, LS, RC, GS, UX and UXe

When did Lexus first become aware of the vulnerability in the security system?

It is not so much vulnerability of the security systems but more so the growing rise in criminal gangs targeting vehicles for ‘cannibalisation’ and / or complete theft. Instances appear to have been rising significantly from 2019-2020. There are many factors involved and at a global level. This includes parts of the world experiencing parts shortage which results in targeted thefts to supply vehicles and/or parts sent to countries experiencing trade restrictions.

When is the enhanced security upgrade going to be available and will it be free of charge?

Exact timings are still to be confirmed. We anticipate being able to advise the Lexus Centre network with full details soon. The required enhancement needs to be carried out at a Lexus Centre. Costs are under review and customers may incur a nominal charge.

Are new models such as the LBX targeted by thieves?

While no car can be considered 100% immune to criminal intent, more recent models are equipped with enhanced security systems aimed at deterring CAN bus type thefts.

Given that the rise in this type or car theft has been known for several years in other countries and is growing in the UK why wasn’t I told about this?

Lexus takes the issue of car crime very seriously. To protect customers’ vehicles our approach is not to disclose our vehicle theft analysis data. The sharing of information could enable thieves to find ways to circumvent anti–theft technologies or make some models particularly attractive to some thieves and unnecessarily vulnerable to attack.

Why are Lexus owners not being invited to install protective plates to their vehicles and why were they only supplied to London Centres?

Lexus offers a free of charge VPP (Vehicle Protection Plate) to any RX450h customer.  Every Lexus Centre across the UK has access to this part. Parts were issued to London Centres in the first instance in line with where the demand has occurred, but all Centres can order the VPP. The strategy is however, to focus attention not to the roll-out of the VPP but to a sophisticated vehicle enhancement.

What is the countermeasure and the plan moving forwards?

We are continuously developing technical solutions to make our vehicles more secure and reduce the risk of theft. An enhanced security hardware was introduced in October 2021 on the latest versions of the models that had previously been targeted by criminals. Since then, we have seen a significant drop-off in terms of successful thefts of those models.

Also we are able to supply and fit a VPP (Vehicle Protection Plate) to targeted RX models

We endeavour to make available another solution that can offer enhanced protection. Details will follow in the coming weeks. This will be communicated to the Lexus Centre network, which will also be responsible for fitting the enhanced security solution.

Why is there no recall for vehicles susceptible to the CAN bus attack?

Recall announcements in the UK are guided by very specific guidelines as drawn up by Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).  To qualify as a recall, the issue must relate to a safety or thermal type issue where there is potential for injury as a result of vehicle manufacture or component failure.  Only in these such circumstances can a recall be announced. 

In recall circumstances, the DVSA will provide manufacturers access to ownership records for purpose of communication.  Instances of theft do not trigger a recall.

Will Lexus pay for damage caused by an attempted theft?

No. This will need to be addressed by the customer and the vehicle insurers. While we understand theft or attempted theft can be highly upsetting and, in some cases, a costly experience, in such instances customers are first and foremost victims of crime.  Lexus does not cover costs associated with criminal activity either under the terms of the warranty or as goodwill.

What is the position with insuring affected models?

As a manufacturer, we stay close to Lexus Insurance colleagues and indeed all motor insurers. We are aware that in many cases, insurance premiums might have increased as a direct result of vehicle crime. We need to refer you to your insurer for further comment.

33 comments

  1. Thank you. As above I spoke to the Bolton Service Centre on Monday this week and they could not help as they were not sure of the process which was disappointing. Will have to see what they say on Monday.

    1. I called into Lexus Hedgend in Southampton today the 18th April and was informed that they had not been issued with the protective plates as yet and to give them a call in a couple of weeks

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