COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Thieves targeting catalytic converters stole more than $20,000 worth of motor pieces from a Colorado nonprofit that helps recovering addicts in the Denver area improve their lives. The Stout Street Foundation houses men and women recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, and relies on a fleet of passenger vans to get their residents to and from their full-time jobs. However, when the staff tried to take their residents to work on May 3, the passenger vans were noticeably inoperable.

“They weren’t running normally. They were loud and made a really weird noise,” said Development Director Carrie Packard.

A quick look under the Stout Street Foundation passenger vans showed all of them were missing catalytic converters. An increase in converter thefts has been reported across Colorado as of late as thieves scrap the metals inside.

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“Our residents come here to change their lives. To have someone take from them, they were very personally affected by this.” Packard said.

When the staff looked at other vehicles, they noticed the converters were stolen from a plow as well as a box truck on the property.

While the converters in some vehicles run several hundred dollars, the catalytic converters in the Stout Street fleet amounted to more than $20,000.

“It’s not something that is on your radar until it happens to you,” Packard said.

She said staff and residents rely on the vans to make sure the residents maintain steady jobs and lives.

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“We take them to job interviews, medical and dental appointments as well as family visits,” Packard said.

Packard said a black truck is believed to have been used to steal the converters. A security camera recorded the truck arriving on the property around 5 p.m. on May 2. The staff said the truck did not belong to anyone who was supposed to be on the property.

“We have a feeling that the people who are stealing these catalytic converters for quick cash are doing it for some sort of habit. The irony that they would steal from a recovery center is strong,” Packard said.

The Stout Street Foundation is now fundraising to repair the vehicles.

Dillon Thomas