OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Foundation for the Disabled is dealing with a string of catalytic converter thefts after six of their vehicles they use to pick up clients have been hit in less than two months.
The organization that has helped so many living with cognitive and developmental disabilities over the last few decades says thieves continue to break into their fenced-off vehicle lot.
Six vehicles have been hit in about 45 days, which comes about to about once per week.
The thefts are costing them thousands of dollars.
“We rely heavily on these vehicles and when something like this happens it really puts us behind the eight ball,” said Steve Ross, the executive director for the foundation.
Ross is left to deal with the headache of the thefts.
“It’s just a big, big pain,” he said.
The thieves have cut holes in their fence to get in and even the barbed wire on top of it.
“If they want something bad enough, they’re going to find a way in,” Ross said.
Each theft is costing the organization roughly $1,300 a piece. That’s not including towing fees.
So far, they’re looking at around $10,000 to get them fixed.
“Anything extra that pops up like this, we just do not have in our budget,” Ross said.
“The precious metals. They’re worth a lot of money,” said Sgt. Dillon Quirk with the Oklahoma City Police Department.
Quirk added that it’s also hard to stop these crimes that only take a few minutes to commit. He said they sometimes see a rise in the thefts, but there is no rhyme or reason as to why.
“It happens so quickly, a lot of times we arrive, and the suspect has already fled,” Quirk said.
The foundation’s clients are also affected by this rash of thefts.
“These vehicles are our lifeline,” Ross said. “We’re an adult daycare center for adults with developmental disabilities and if we don’t have these vehicles, we can’t transport the people here in the morning and take them home in the afternoon. We just have to call and say I’m sorry, but we don’t have a way to get them here today.”
Ross and the foundation are now looking into ways to stop it, like electric fences. He said they are hoping they can get the problem fixed soon.
“That’s going to be another expense that we’re going to have but hopefully that might deter somebody in the future,” Ross said.
According to Ross, about 60% of their budget is funded by the state. About 15% of it comes from them being a United Way partnered agency. The other 25% comes from donations. With everything going on right now, he said it’s been quite tight.
Learn how to donate on their website.