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Three catalytic converters stolen from Springfield center serving adults with special needs

Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 5:15 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Thieves going after catalytic converters in Springfield have hit vehicles owned by Adult Tendercare Center three times so far this year.

Director Christopher Upton says the center cares for people with disabilities. The damage to the vans used by staff doesn’t just affect the business, but the families they serve.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with adults with special needs, but they really like routines,” says Upton. “Whenever that’s messed up, it’s a bad day for everybody, so it just breaks our hearts.”

Although video security cameras and alarms have been installed, Upton says it hasn’t helped to prevent the thefts.

“Not only are we not the only place this is happening to, but it’s happening to places like churches and Habitat for Humanity and people who are trying to help people,” Upton says. “Instead of being able to focus on helping people, we’re having to focus on repairing our vehicles.”

He says vans have been left at the center overnight for more than 15 years without problems, until this year.

Upton says repairs have cost the center thousands of dollars, which is a struggle for a family-owned business during the pandemic.

“It’s just so frustrating after all the time we’ve lost, all the money we’ve lost over the last year, just how hard it has been for everyone,” Upton says. “To have to deal with that, not only once, but multiple times, I couldn’t. It was just unfair. I just broke down and cried.”

Upton says starting this week, drivers will take the vans home with them at the end of the day to try and prevent any other thefts.

“Obviously they’re just going to keep coming back and they’re just going to keep stealing them,” Upton says. “We luckily have some wonderful drivers and they live where it’s not going to be an issue and they even have some garages they’re able to put them in. We’re having to rely on our employees for that safety and it’s sad our city can’t provide that for us.”

Upton says it’s been a tough year for everyone. He wants to help where he can.

“Instead of stealing our vehicles parts, come inside,” Upton says. “We’ll figure out a way to get you some help and get you what you need. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a plea that’s going to be answered.”

Upton says he’s filed police reports after every theft.

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