The Robin Hood Association is trying to absorb the blow of three catalytic converter thefts on their fleet of buses.
The non-profit group serves adults and children with developmental disabilities and uses its fleet of auxiliary buses to transport individuals from their community to various jobs, activities and programs.
On the morning of Jan.2, a staff member discovered one of the buses had been targeted after taking a client for COVID-19 testing. Upon return, they checked surveillance footage and found that two buses had been hit, one on Dec.30 and the other on Jan.1.
Last Saturday (Jan.8) at around 4 p.m., another bus was targeted. Anne-Marie Lepan, CEO of the Robin Hood Association, said it appears to be the same person responsible for all three thefts based on the footage.
"Same person, the same truck showed up at the same location, hit a different van," she described, noting the thief took the muffler instead of the catalytic converter.
The suspect was driving a dark coloured Dodge Ram truck with grey trim, a long bed and a top cover.
The string of thefts has burned a hole in the non-profit's pocketbook. It'll cost about $2,200 for new parts, and a diesel particulate burner is required for one of the busses, which Lepan said will cost just under $10,000 to replace.
After another series of thefts last spring targeted the association, the organization spent nearly $18,000 on camera systems and lighting for their facilities in hopes it would make them less attractive to thieves.
In addition to the financial hit, having fewer vehicles on the road means the people they serve can't get to where they need to go.
"We're looking at repairs and maintenance costs being added to an already under-resourced service a not-for-profit is trying to run. It impacts people directly; the people we support aren't able to get out into communities or work as often. We're looking at alternates or just services being cancelled altogether until we can get some of the parts and things repaired."
Lepan added they have had great feedback from the community and are working on getting the word out on social media. She's hopeful someone will be able to identify the suspect.