SHAWNEE, Kan. — A small, Shawnee animal shelter's only van is out of commission after two catalytic converters were cut off the vehicle Thursday morning.
"I cried, it was really disheartening," said Kaitlin Thompson, marketing and PR manager for Melissa’s Second Chances, West 75th Street and Neiman Road.
Thompson said the van is used to drive animals to surgery and for transports.
"That’s our main use for it because we go to surgery four days a week, and then we take it when we do transports," she said.
Now they'll have to pay up.
"It was $3,000 worth of parts, which might not be a lot to a big shelter but it’s a lot to us," Thompson said.
Sanford Levine, owner of KC Iron & Metal, said people are cutting out converters for the money, as the pandemic caused shortages in manufacturing.
"The scrap price of some of them are, used to be 50-60 bucks are now 250-300 dollars a piece and some of the exotic ones used to be 500 can be 13-1400 dollars a piece for scrap," Levine said.
Levine said he doesn't buy converters unless customers can prove they own the car.
"There are numbers on the converter that match the car it came off of, so we will get the numbers, we will check our list to make sure that converter extract came off that car," Levine said.
But still, he said he knows there are other ways for thieves to make a quick buck at the expense of others.
"You’ve got Craigslist and Ebay, and you got guys coming from Iowa and Nebraska, they will come in pick up trucks," Levine said. "If you get on there, you can see they advertise different converters and tell what each one is worth."
The Shawnee Police Department told KSHB 41 News they are looking through surveillance video to find out who took the converters. So far this year, the department has taken 35 reports of catalytic converters being stolen, compared to 19 cases all of last year.
It's been a rough summer for the shelter, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought on several challenges.
"Lots and lots of needs this summer because last year during the shutdown spay and neuter services were drastically decreased because of social distancing and medical medical supplies were really hard to get," Thompson said.
The recent surge in catalytic converter thefts has prompted at least 18 states to introduce legislation, including Missouri, where the law toughens penalties and regulations for selling and buying metals.
While hybrids like the Toyota Prius are a likely target because they contain a larger amount of metals, full-size SUVs and pickup trucks also are an easy target.
Those interested in donating to Melissa's Second Chances can do so on the shelter's website.