ATLANTA — Gwinnett County Police are searching for a thief who stole a catalytic converter from a truck being used to help mothers in need.
“It was just devastating. It was like, are you kidding me?!” Jamie Lackey, founder of Helping Mamas, said.
The non-profit organization used the box truck to deliver diapers and supplies to underserved communities. They had just bought the brand new truck in December.
It was only able to make two deliveries before the part was cut out of the bottom Tuesday night. It has not been able to make any deliveries since.
"You feel like you’re letting down your community, your staff and the donors because you have this useless truck that can’t do anything for you,” Lackey said.
Once the driver of the truck tried to start it, they knew right away something was wrong.
"We were taking it to get wrapped with our logo and when our driver turned the vehicle on it made a horrific noise,” Lackey said.
The founder said she immediately filed a police report and an insurance claim.
It's been eight weeks since the incident, and they are still waiting to replace the part.
"It’s a newer vehicle that it is on major galactic back order which means they have no time frame for when a new catalytic converter will be available," said Lackey.
According to police, at least 500 catalytic converter thefts happened just last year in Gwinnett County alone.
Catalytic converters filter out harmful emissions and help your car run more efficiently and quietly. Criminals are stealing them because they also contain small amounts of platinum, palladium and rhodium which are each worth thousands of dollars per ounce.
Once it’s stolen, supply chain issues continue to slow down their replacement - leaving victims frustrated and waiting.
11Alive reached out to the dealership where Helping Mamas got the truck. The dealership said the replacement part was ordered early January, but they did not say when it would arrive.