MESQUITE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The latest victim of catalytic converter thefts is a food bank in Mesquite.

On Monday night, they were stolen off two box trucks belonging to Sharing Life Community Outreach.

The nonprofit uses them to pick up and deliver food to thousands across Mesquite and its surrounding communities.

Experts say businesses and nonprofits are being hit just as regularly as personal cars.

“It’s a major problem right now. A major problem,” said Bryan Witherspoon, co-owner of Muffler King auto shop in Dallas.

He says 90% of their calls are for stolen catalytic converters. They see about 10 cars a day, and even have a wait list to get them fixed.

“We are running on average about two weeks behind right now,” Witherspoon said.

In 2019, the National Insurance Crime Bureau documented 3,389 catalytic converter thefts, compared to 14,433 in 2020.

That’s over a 300% jump in just reported and insured thefts. Counting those that aren’t, it’s likely even higher.

That’s why the shop wasn’t surprised to hear about the stolen converters off two trucks at the local nonprofit.

They immediately stepped in, bumped them to the front of the line and fixed one truck so that their food wouldn’t go to waste.

“It was the right thing to do,” Witherspoon said.

“Having a lag in our ability to go out and pick up those items, may mean and usually does mean we lose them all together,” said Teresa Jackson, CEO of Sharing Life Community Outreach. “We are grateful for our community.”

Their other truck needs special parts and will hopefully be repaired soon.

Right now the nonprofit is using their own cars to supplement distribution.

And in the meantime, they are working on living out their slogan.

“If you note our tag line is ‘Demonstrating compassion.’ You don’t have to steal. We are here to help you, we want to demonstrate compassion to you, no matter what your situation is,” Jackson said.

To stop catalytic converter thefts the Texas Legislature passed a bill that will require metal recycling companies to maintain and submit records when they purchase catalytic converters.

It goes into effect Sept. 1.

Nicole Nielsen