A “National Epidemic” – Catalytic Converter Theft In The UK Is Out Of Control

A “National Epidemic” – Catalytic Converter Theft In The UK Is Out Of Control

Catalytic converter theft shows no signs of subsiding…

It’s been an ongoing issue several years running, and seems to be getting worse by the day. It’s been reported that catalytic converter theft in the UK has increased ten-fold this year alone! And even though there have been dozens of official community warnings, a large percentage of vehicle owners are still unaware of the issue — until its too late.

Thieves are targeting hybrid cars (including older ones) due to the value of their ‘exhaust pipe’ that contains precious metals worth hundreds.

It doesn’t help that thieves have been getting more and more brazen as of late – cutting out catalytic converters from parked cars in broad daylight in the middle of busy roads and shopping centre (and even hospital!) car parks, whilst passers-by don’t care and Police isn’t likely to respond (so we’ve been told by a number of our customers who had fallen victim to catalytic converter theft), and therefore – vehicle owners can only count on themselves to safeguard their vehicle, sadly.

Some cars, Lexus RX400h in particular allow for easier access due to their height, so whilst other vehicles targeted by catalytic converter thieves require lifting to get under, others don’t, and so, in some cases, it takes only about a minute to cut out the ‘cat’. But even when jacking-up is required to get to the converter, it could take as little as 3 minutes to carry out the whole procedure.

Having your catalytic converter stolen could set you back as much as £3,000 in repair and replacement costs…


Which cars are at risk of catalytic converter theft?

Only hybrid cars are of interest to catalytic converter thieves; Toyota Prius seemingly their Nr. 1 choice.

Here is a full list of cars vulnerable to catalytic converter theft:

Toyota Prius
Toyota Yaris
Lexus RX400h
Mercedes Sprinter (van)
Toyota Auris
Honda Jazz
Honda Accord


Manufacturer ‘solutions’ don’t appear to ‘work’…

In response to the issue, which has been described by some as “a national scandal”, Toyota UK, whose vehicles are most at risk of – and most vulnerable to – catalytic converter theft, begun offering a device, called “CATLOC”, which is meant to create a physical barrier meant to deter the thieves.

There’s a several month long waiting list for the device.

Panic-stricken vehicle owners have taken to social media and many victim stories have been shared in the press. Toyota is currently under attack by hundreds of unhappy customers who – first and foremost – feel let down by the very fact that they were not warned that the car they’re buying is very likely to become a target (and it’s not a new issue – it’s been known for at least 5 years).

And secondly – the solution offered doesn’t appear to actually ‘work’ 🙁

However, it has to be pointed out that there is a disclaimer that the CATLOC does not offer 100% protection and is only meant to delay thieves.

Does a CATLOC give my car 100% protection from thieves?

“Sadly not. It can make theft more difficult but thieves are using high-powered cutting tools to remove catalytic converters and because of this it is not possible to make catalytic converters ‘unstealable’. As mentioned above, we’re doing all we can to seek further technical options for customers.”

Source: Toyota UK


And, indeed…

“Catloc doesn’t work, only sets them a few min more.”

“I have just returned to my car and my catalytic converter stolen AGAIN!! Twice in just over a month from staff hospital car park. Toyota doing nothing but empty platitudes and explaining not their fault!!”

“Same thing happened to me. Same stock responses from Toyota. I sold my Auris which I only owned for 8 days before the theft back to the garage I bought it from. I wanted my money back since they failed to tell me about this problem when they had cars in the garage awaiting repair.”

“So many complaints yet I was told nothing about this problem when I bought my car last week!!! Just 3 days after buying my car, my catalytic converter was stolen!!”

“So apparently Toyota’s response is to make a protection device which may or may not deter thieves – but I have to pay up to £250 for the privilege! This is so frustrating. I can’t see why I’d ever buy a Toyota again.”

“I’m an UBER driver in London , after I installed a catloc from Toyota I can say that I’m the most stressed person! I hit almost every speed bum especially with more than 2 people in the car and make a nasty noise by touching the catalyst!I regret that I installed this type of catalyst protection with Toyota. It gives me more stress than the catalyst thieves!”

“This type of theft from Toyota cars is a national scandal and needs to be shown on TV and reported to watch dog.”

“Auris Touring Sports Hybrid 2015 – Cat stolen 04/11/2019 – South London. it got stolen after catloc fitted!!! Toyota should guarantee free replacement converter and catloc if it gets stolen a second time, otherwise, what is the point!!?”

These are just a few of the comments from the official Toyota UK blog.


Is there a surefire way to protect your car against catalytic converter theft?

Since the solution offered by the manufacturer doesn’t appear to be much of a deterrent, we’ve had a surge of customers at StarLineUK looking for a different solution (well, the few who had decided to keep their Toyota as the majority seem to want to get rid of the car altogether and go for a different make, which is sad as Toyota is actually a great car to own, but this issue is putting customers off, creating a strong negative association with the brand itself).

As for ‘surefire’ solutions, this is our take:

A physical barrier is a must, but just as important is getting a timely notification if the vehicle is under attack, as we believe that any form of anti-theft protection is only meant to delay (the longer the delay, the less likely the thieves are to persist with their quest).

Most thefts are prevented in one of the following ways:
(1) thieves give up due to time-constraints.
(2) thieves are warded off by the owner (or passers-by, which is rare) interfering.

Some of our Partners offer a custom-built physical barrier in addition to a device that would detect tampering / tilting – StarLine M66 intelligent device is a popular choice.

So, to summarise:

Having a physical barrier + a timely notification of attack, is perhaps the best possible way to ensure that your ‘cat’ stays where it should.


Video demonstration of StarLine M66’s working principle:



Do you own a high-risk vehicle? Worried about its security? Interested in joining the #ConnectedCarsUK community? Feel free to contact us or your local StarLine-approved dealer for a professional consultation and expert advice.

Our Partners are trained to provide all the assistance you need in choosing the right vehicle security solution for your individual needs and one that’s best suited for your vehicle’s make/model.

Please follow and like us:

WhatsApp Chat On WhatsApp!