AHRC: Theft of van parts could cost nonprofit $25G

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Repairing nine vans whose catalytic converters were removed by vandals could cost a Nassau County nonprofit nearly $25,000, an official of the agency said Thursday.

Nassau County police said they are trying to determine who removed the catalytic converters from nine wheelchair-accessible vans owned by AHRC Nassau, a nonprofit that provides about 2,200 disabled people with a variety of support services.

Rob Ciatto, senior director of administration for the agency, said the nine vans -- used to transport adults with disabilities -- were parked in a lot at one of the organization's East Meadow buildings at 2555 Hempstead Tpke. at about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The next morning workers discovered the catalytic converters had been removed.

A police spokeswoman on Thursday said the devices can be worth up to $500 apiece; they often are exchanged at scrap yards because they can contain valuable metals.

Ciatto said repair estimates on three of the vans Wednesday indicated replacing the catalytic converters could run anywhere from $2,000 to $2,500 per vehicle.

He said insurance could cover some of the costs.

"More so than the cost, we use vehicles to transport adults to and from a lot of different programs," Ciatto said. Not having enough vehicles "leads to hardships for others" and people cannot get the help they need, he said.

The nonprofit has more than 30 locations in Nassau, and its transportation fleet has about 600 vehicles.

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Police who investigated the thefts Wednesday had little to go on. "There are no security cameras present, and we canvassed the area and no one saw anything," the police spokeswoman said.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-8477. All calls will be kept confidential.

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