PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — A catalytic converter was stolen from a Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity truck at a construction site in Pittsfield.
Habitat is building six, four-bedroom town homes on Gordon Street for families who would otherwise not be able to afford them. And Carolyn Valli, CEO of Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, says the project is nearing completion despite a recent blow.
“No, that could not be. Who would? How? Why?” she said when realizing someone had stolen the catalytic converter from a work truck. “They cut into the fence, and they had to bring power tools in order to do it, so it seems like, ‘Gee, that was a well thought out plan.'”
Checks at local scrapyards have turned up nothing, but Valli’s call to action did.
“Everybody in this community, when anything goes awry, they all jump together and say how can we help,” she said.
“It’s Habitat, they do good things for the community,” said Bob Gaylord, who owns Newell Street Transmission in Pittsfield.
Someone donated a catalytic converter, and Gaylord is installing it for free.
“It’s located just behind the frame, and you can see right here where the pipe was cut,” he said.
Gaylord says the thief knew right where to cut and had probably done it before.
“The catalytic converters, as small as they are, are worth a ton of dough, so you can take four or five and be a thousand bucks ahead, easy,” he said.
The converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system—filtering toxic gases into more environmentally-friendly compounds, and they contain precious metals like platinum.
“Some can be worth as little as 30 bucks; some can be worth as much as $600 or $700,” said Gaylord.
He says the thefts are happening more often with scrap values up and people desperate to make a quick buck.
“Five minutes of their time and a cordless saw is all you need,” he said.
What the suspect probably didn’t consider was the organization they stole from could have helped them.
“There’s always second chances for people, but you kind of have to make that decision that you want to be living on one line of trajectory or you want to stay in the other,” said Valli.
Two families will be moving into their new homes just in time for the holidays, and applications are still available for the other town homes.