COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Catalytic converter thefts have plagued parts of Colorado for months, and now a nonprofit is among the many that have become victims.
The Stout Street Foundation houses and helps those recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. On Sunday, May 2, five of its 15-passenger vans and a box truck had their catalytic converters stolen. A seventh vehicle was left with a damaged catalytic converter.
Carrie Packard, the development director for the foundation, said surveillance video showed the theft took minutes.
"They drove in, parked their car. It looked like we were cased because they knew exactly where to come. They parked their truck so that they were obstructed, and they hit all of our vehicles. Within four minutes they were gone," she said.
Now, the foundation is left without six of it's most important vehicles, which they use to transport the roughly 100 residents living on property to work every single day, as well as other necessary locations.
"We ensure that while our residents are here, they're able to attend to any physical needs. They have doctor's appointments, dental appointments, if they have legal appointments or family visits," said Packard.
Packard told Denver7 they asked about cost to fix all of the vehicles, and were told it's be between $2,000 and $5,000 to replace the catalytic converters.
"It's a big hit to us," she said.
She said they've submitted a claim to their insurance, but aren't too hopeful.
"We have put in an insurance claim, but that's going to take some time and there's always the risk of our insurer not liking that. So ideally, we would prefer to pay this out of pocket, but that's $20,000," said Packard.
The hefty price tag is what's leading Packard to ask the community for help. She's set up a website where community members can donate and help Stout Street Foundation get their vehicles functioning properly again.
"We're hoping we can get these back up and running in the next week or so, especially as spring is happening and we have summer activities planned for our residents," she said.
The theft of catalytic converters has skyrocketed over the past couple of years. In Denver, in 2019, 15 catalytic converters were reported stolen.
That number shot up to 257 in 2020, and in the first month of 2021, there had already been 108 thefts.
Thieves steal converters, which contain precious metals like platinum, and sell them to scrap yards.