HOUSTON — Catalytic converter thieves are at it again.
This time a nonprofit dedicated to helping the community and a private ambulance company on the southwest side near Bissonnet and the Beltway were hit.
Both groups said the ripple effects these thefts have on those who depend on their services go far beyond an inconvenience.
These thefts stop them from helping some of the most vulnerable in our community, and in some cases, people looking to make a quick buck are putting people’s lives in danger.
Dez Hawkins owns Unicare EMS. He has to make sure his fleet of ambulances are ready to go at any moment.
They help transport dialysis patients.
“We can’t be down for one hour, two hours. That puts us behind on our patients, and these patients unfortunately they need our help to get back and forth to their appointments or they may not live,” Hawkins said.
For the fourth time within the past year, the ambulance company was the target of catalytic converter thieves.
“I don’t care how much it is. It’s not worth somebody’s life," Hawkins said. “Once we fire them up we hear a loud noise and we’re like, ‘Oh, wait a minute.’ Something is wrong with the unit. And all of a sudden we look underneath and there are clean cuts for the pipes.”
Bee Busy Learning Academy was also hit for the second time.
“This time it’s the catalytic converter, next time, what else is it going to be?” said Darcy Padgett, executive director of Bee Busy.
“Why steal from the people that’s coming out to help the community?" said Ajay Ganious, a risk reduction specialist with Bee Busy.
The nonprofit’s mobile unit, which provides health services, clothing and supplies to people in need, is out of commission until its catalytic converter is replaced.
“When you take from that, then you’re robbing your own community, so stop!” Padgett said.
Bee Busy is 100 percent grant-funded, and they have this message for the thieves:
“You’ve got to get off your hind side and do the work for yourself,” Ganious said. “You just can’t come and take everybody’s everything. The community needs us.”
It could cost anywhere between $800 and $1,500 to replace each catalytic converter, money that comes out of Unicare and Bee Busy’s budgets.
The nonprofit is accepting donations to help them get back on the road. To donate, click here.