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Community rallies behind nonprofit following theft

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 9:35 a.m. MDT

Three catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles belonging to the nonprofit group Splore over the weekend. It will cost approximately $3,400 to fix the damage. (Mark Wetzel, Deseret News) Three catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles belonging to the nonprofit group Splore over the weekend. It will cost approximately $3,400 to fix the damage. (Mark Wetzel, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A nonprofit organization now has enough money to repair two vehicles that had catalytic converters stolen over the weekend thanks to community support.

Splore, which provides outdoor adventures for people with disabilities and disadvantages, was faced with a hefty repair bill of $3,400. It reached out to the community with a humorous statement chastising the thieves, and the community responded.

The catalytic converters in Splore's pickup truck and shuttle bus were cut and removed from the vehicles sometime over the weekend. 

The converters keep toxic chemicals from cars' exhaust out of the air and are valuable scrap metal targets for thieves.

Two catalytic converters were cut off this 15-passenger van belonging to the nonprofit group Splore over the weekend. It will cost $3,400 to fix damage to this vehicle and to a pickup. (Mark Wetzel, Deseret News) Two catalytic converters were cut off this 15-passenger van belonging to the nonprofit group Splore over the weekend. It will cost $3,400 to fix damage to this vehicle and to a pickup. (Mark Wetzel, Deseret News)

Police say converters are often stolen because the thief or thieves have some kind of addiction, like drugs or alcohol. But even then, the money thieves get for the metal is nowhere near the cost of the damage they cause.

The theft forced Splore to cancel a couple of trips.

After the story aired on KSL-TV, the group said it received a donation of $3,400. It has since received another $3,760 to help cover repairs and the canceled trips. It also received an outpouring of in-kind donations from catalytic converters to additional security systems to labor costs.

"It's another demonstration of the fact that there are a lot more people willing to do good than those looking to do harm," said Janine Donald, Splore's executive director.

Splore Executive Director Janine Donald wrote a letter to the people who stole catalytic converters from two vehicles belonging to the nonprofit. On Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, she talked about how the group had to put trips on hold because of the theft. (Mark Wetzel, Deseret News) Splore Executive Director Janine Donald wrote a letter to the people who stole catalytic converters from two vehicles belonging to the nonprofit. On Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, she talked about how the group had to put trips on hold because of the theft. (Mark Wetzel, Deseret News)

Instead of being angry at what happened over the weekend, Donald she wrote a humorous letter to the thief and read it to KSL to raise awareness of the theft.

"Dear catalytic converter enthusiast. Well done! Your work is clearly that of an experienced and skilled individual. While we appreciate your attention to detail and craftsmanship, we were actually quite fond of our catalytic converters," the letter stated.

“While we could let this experience embitter us and hold us back from providing trips, we instead realize you've given us a unique opportunity. Every day we push our clients to do more than they think they can and to overcome insurmountable odds, and today, you are doing the same for us. While it's not always fun or enjoyable, we know that this experience will foster gratitude and community at Splore.”

Donald said all she had to do was look at the smiles on the people her group helps, and there's was no way a missing piece of metal was going to get her down.

"When you put it in perspective, it's like, this really isn't that awful of a thing," she said.

Contributing:  Viviane Vo-Duc

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

Twitter: ksl_alexcabrero

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company