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Thieves swipe catalytic converters from outreach organization

"They got us today, but it could be you tomorrow if you don't pay attention."
Posted at 10:24 PM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 23:24:04-04

MILWAUKEE — An outreach organization in Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood needs help after it was targeted by thieves.

Travis Landry is the Regional Vice President of Westcare Wisconsin, which is located near Vel R. Phillips and Wright Streets.

He got a call one morning from his team, worried about how the car was sounding.

When Landry got there, he realized the catalytic converter was gone. A week later, it happened again—the catalytic converter was gone in a second car.

"They hopped the fence, cut the catalytic converters off, jumped back over the fence and went about their way," Landry said.

Unfortunately, Landry does not have surveillance cameras. He reported the incidents to Milwaukee police.

The catalytic converter is part of the car's exhaust system, and thieves steal them for scrap metal.

Those two cars are critical to Landry's operation. Workers use them to deliver food to clients who can't make it to the food pantry. They also drive clients to services and appointments.

"This week we had to really shut down, so we weren't able to do any deliveries, weren't able to do any pickups, but we'll pick it back up next week and start the process back on again," Landry said. "I haven't figured it out yet. I don't know how, but I believe that something will happen and we'll be able to start doing our deliveries and pick ups again."

Westcare says each car will cost more than $2,000 to repair, and it could take a few weeks.

Landry says about 600 people visit the food pantry each month. He says the community has really stepped up to fill in those gaps.

"I been getting outreach of people wanting to help and assist picking up and dropping off and helping the seniors get food they've been looking for, and things of that nature, so we take everyone up on their offer now," Landry said.

He says it's important he let the neighborhood know what's going on. He said some neighbors have called saying it happened to them as well.

Landry won't let this stop him from serving his community.

"They got us today, but it could be you tomorrow if you don't pay attention," Landry said.

If you have any information, call Milwaukee Police or 224-TIPS.

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