Thieves steal catalytic converters from vans for people with disabilities

ASPIRO puts its vehicles inside a fence that didn't stop the thieves
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 3:23 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Almost half a dozen catalytic converters have been stolen from ASPIRO in Green Bay over the last six months. The organization provides programs for people with disabilities, especially helping them get to work. The stolen car parts can cost about $1,500 each to replace. It’s having a major effect on ASPIRO’s transportation schedules.

ASPIRO uses the vehicles to transport people with disabilities to their jobs every day. Starting back in November 2021, when one of their drivers tried to pull away from the Dousman Street location, it became apparent that a catalytic converter had been stolen from underneath the van.

“Shortly after that we had another one stolen,” ASPIRO president, Lincoln Burr, remembered. “Then the next day they stole the one we had just replaced. We knew we had to react so we moved everything over to a different location that was inside of a fence.”

Yet, this fence didn’t stop thieves from striking again. About three weeks ago, someone or potentially multiple people cut the locked fence in a section and slipped through. Clippings from the fence were still on the ground when Action 2 News was on the scene on April 28.

Two more catalytic converters were stolen by slashing pipes near the vans’ mufflers and pulled them out. Meaning five total have been stolen since November. The converters help the engine to run and the vans can’t be used without them.

“It’s not a quiet thing,” Burr explained. “Obviously it’s loud. They’re cutting these off. Please report it if you see it.”

There is no surveillance footage because the thieves knew how to get around the security cameras. ASPIRO has reported all the cases to Green Bay police. Officers have told us this kind of crime is increasing because the converters can be removed quickly and contain valuable metals. ASPIRO is now installing brighter lights and higher-tech cameras to protect the catalytic converters they still have.

“But in the end we’ve got to stop the market,” Burr emphasized. “We’ve got to get this so that it’s not profitable to steal these things anymore. That’s our hope, that will happen eventually.”

ASPIRO is now putting what they call “cat cages” over their converters. They make it harder for the hardware to be stolen and sold for the valuable metals inside.

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