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Stolen catalytic converter stops Indy homeless outreach program

Posted at 9:03 PM, May 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 22:03:49-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Over the past several months WRTV has shared several stories on the rise in catalytic converter thefts.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the average per month of converter thefts went from 100 or so in 2018 to more than 1,200 in 2020. Experts say it's in part due to the metals that make up the converter, which is worth more and more money.

WRTV spoke with one of Indianapolis' homeless outreach groups who had to stop operations because of this growing issue.

Tag Griffin and his family live on Indy's south side. He's the founder of "Hearts in Hand Homeless Outreach."

On Wednesday, the catalytic converter to Griffin's van was stolen. He says this van is a lifeline in delivering home-cooked meals to upwards of 150 neighbors experiencing homelessness.

"Actually, we were the 10th reported call in a 48-hour time period, according to the officer we filed a report with," Griffin said.

Every Saturday night from 6 a.m.-11 a.m. his team goes to 14 different spots across Indianapolis.

"And right now we have to stop everything until that's fixed," Griffin said.

Pictures from underneath the vehicle show the catalytic converter cut out, according to Griffin. It's currently parked underneath a streetlamp.

Saturday's delivery was canceled, and on Sunday the van is still up on a jack. Pieces of pipe are scattered underneath the car.

"I mean, they didn't care if they were caught," Griffin said.

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In 2017, Griffin and his wife started the organization. Once a drug addict, Griffin's been sober since 2012. It's his mission now to break stereotypes of those experiencing homelessness.

"I won't give up on my friends because they need every person in their fight that they can get," Griffin said.

While there are other issues with the van, Griffin says this could cost $600 or more.

"Sometimes when it rains, it pours, right?" WRTV reporter Nikki DeMentri asked. Griffin respondeD: "Yup, yup, you just add on, but you just put it on your back and just keep walking."

Hearts in Hand survives off of donations and out-of-pocket expenses. And although Griffin says he's raised $200, he's hoping he can raise more to get the van fixed.

"I depend on them, they make me smile. When they're happy to see me, that makes me happy because they know they love them," Griffin said. "Every time we leave a site we tell them, 'we'll see you next week, we love you.'"

Griffin says he hopes to have the van back on the road by next Saturday. Hearts in Hand Homeless Outreach can be found at this Facebook group where there is a link to donate to help.

MORE | Catalytic converter thefts on the rise

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