COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Catalytic converter thefts have been plaguing central Ohio in recent months, with one local non-profit organization being hit several times with theft.

LifeCare Alliance said five of its Meals on Wheels delivery vans had their converters stolen Sunday night.

“I think you have to be a unique individual to steal from the Meals on Wheels group in Columbus, Ohio,” said Chuck Gehring, president and CEO of LifeCare Alliance.

When employees arrived to work Monday morning, they found car parts scattered under some of the vehicles.

“You just can’t believe this stuff goes on,” Gehring said. “You just can’t believe that people are that bad, that they’re going to do this kind of thing.”

Every time a catalytic converter theft happens, it causes a ripple effect for the operation: the van can’t be used until it’s fixed, but meal deliveries don’t stop and they either have to have a driver carry out multiple routes, rent vans, or bring in more volunteers.

According to LifeCare, 19 catalytic converters have been stolen over four separate incidents in recent months.

Between fixing the vans and upgrading its security, Gehring said it has cost the non-profit organization $80,000 over the last five months, an expense he said the organization doesn’t need right now.

“Seniors, low-income seniors, and chronically ill, and other seniors in central Ohio wait on their meals, wait on the food they need because these people are stealing catalytic converters and I can tell you, I hope they catch them,” Gehring said.

LifeCare has added razor wire to the top of its fencing to stop the thefts. However, in the latest theft, the thieves cut through the fence.

Gehring said LifeCare plans to add more security measures, but the situation is becoming more and more frustrating.

“You have absolutely zero moral background of any kind to steal these things from the people that are trying to feed, maybe, your grandmother,” he said. “And I think it’s just horrendous stuff.”

More often than not, thieves steal the catalytic converters to sell for scrap metal. Rhodium makes the catalytic converters so attractive. The metal sold for $696 per ounce in 2016. Now the price is $18,000 an ounce, according to Ohio House Bill 408, which states scrapyards and the like cannot buy catalytic converters without first obtaining documentation from the seller that the seller is the rightful owner.

“As there are no labels on the converter to attach it to a car title, for example, this bill would essentially ban the sale of catalytic converters unless the person is scrapping an entire car,” according to the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Bob Young (R-Green).

While the meals may get delivered a little later, Gehring wants the community to know this will not stop the organization’s work.

“We can’t stop doing what we do,” he said. “We got to get the meals out. People are desperate, people need this food we bring out.”