MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Alabama say the catalytic converters have been removed from three of their vans.
Law enforcement agencies around the nation and in Alabama have been warning about an increase in catalytic converter thefts for months.
Tuesday night, the non-profit’s vans were hit for the third time. “This was becoming a problem, and it’s really affecting how we can serve kids in our community,” said Tim Wills, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Alabama.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Alabama released this surveillance video of one of the thefts this week.
Three of the Boys and Girls Clubs’ vans have had their converters removed since June.
“These are costing us around 1,200 bucks each time these are stolen. While someone is out here making a cheap buck, it has a real cost to young people in our community. That’s one less vehicle we have to go pick up kids every day after school, and it really hampers our ability with our operations each day,” Wills said.
The non-profit has seven vans to pick kids up from school and bring them to their various clubs across the city.
“One of those vans was actually locked in a fenced area, and an individual still got in and stole the converter,” Wills said.
The clubs provide a safe place for children to spend time after school, where they continue to learn and play. Not having enough vans means they will have to spend a longer amount of time picking up the kids. “That really has a negative effect on our ability to keep serving kids here in town,” Wills said.
Mobile police say the catalytic converter thefts are a city-wide problem. The car part helps keep your exhaust cleaner for the environment. It is made up of precious metals, which is why thieves target the piece.
We spoke with an auto mechanic earlier this year who says he was seeing a spike in customers coming in with the catalytic converter stolen. “We’ve probably done 40 in a week, no kidding,” Daryl McDonald, the co-owner of McDonald Muffler, said in March 2021.
The cost, plus the time it takes for parts to come in with delays due to COVID-19 means it will take longer for the clubs’ vans to get back on the road.
“It’s really heartbreaking because our young people need everybody in our community to help support them,” Wills said. “So when folks do this on a van that’s clearly marked as Boys and Girls Clubs, you’re taking a direct, a direct hit towards kids in our community.”
Mobile police have told the Boys and Girls Club they will be stepping up patrols in the area.