'We are in desperate need'; Newport News nonprofit hit by catalytic converter theft

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Posted at 3:12 PM, May 26, 2022

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Catalytic converter theft has been rampant lately in Newport News.

According to the Newport News Police Department, 12 catalytic converters were stolen in March. In April, there were 28. News 3 is still waiting on the May numbers from Newport News police, but police did confirm one business alone had 17 stolen in the middle of the month.

The car part is valuable because of the rhodium and palladium inside. Authorities say thieves can get about $200 for the stolen device, but it can cost between $1,000 and $3,000 to replace it.

Dreams of Hope, a nonprofit organization in Newport News, had three catalytic converters stolen from their fleet of vans. The nonprofit helps people with mental illness gain independent living skills.

The organization provides transportation to and from mental health appointments, the grocery store and the laundromat. It also assists with housing and serves hot meals, as well as provides a clothing closet and food pantry.

Simone Dreher told News 3 they had to scrap the three vans that had the catalytic converters stolen, because insurance wouldn't cover the thousands of dollars needed to replace them.

“It’s impacted us tremendously. We had a fleet of four vehicles and now we’re down to one," Dreher said.

Dreher said they serve 300 to 400 people and drive about 30,000 miles every month. To fill the gap, Dreher said volunteers have been driving their personal cars to try to make ends meet.

“It’s so difficult to manage it and try to ensure that we are still serving the people," Dreher said. "We’ve been hit pretty hard. That was a detriment — a really big setback to our organization.”

She said they need at least two more vehicles to be able to serve their current clients.

If you're interested in donating to Dreams of Hope, click here for more information.

If you're interested in getting your VIN etched into your catalytic converter to deter theft, the Newport News Police Department is holding an etching event on Saturday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Brittingham-Midtown Community Center. That's located at 570 McLawhorne Drive.