Toyota will spend more than £1 million to combat catalytic converter theft on older vehicles, rates of which have risen to an all-time high.
The Japanese firm will work with the police, security firm Smartwater and the AA to produce and distribute 50,000 initial marking kits, which will be used to mark the components of more than 100,000 Lexus and Toyota cars.
Catalytic converters are targeted by thieves because they contain precious metals used to clean up exhaust gases and reduce pollution. These metals can be illegally recycled or sold for profit, although more modern cars are fitted with differently designed converters, so are not typically targeted by thieves.
Hybrid cars have the most precious metals in their catalytic converters and are popular targets for organised gangs. The Auris and Prius both use this technology.
Security markings are invisible but can be used to trace stolen catalytic converters to a specific crime, also raising the risk to those handling the devices along the criminal chain, from theft to disposal and eventual recycling.
“Catalytic converter theft is a very serious problem in the UK and the effects on victims of this crime are emotional as well as financial,” said Rob Giles, Toyota director of customer services.
“We’re pleased to be starting this initiative, working closely with the police, not only to help them with their efforts to combat this crime but also to send a clear message to criminals that if they choose to target a Toyota or Lexus car, there is now a far higher chance of getting caught,” Giles added.
The marking service is free to all Lexus and Toyota customers, who need to call their local dealership for more information.