Wafer Mobile Pantry latest of several catalytic converter thefts

LA CROSSE (Wisconsin) — When Wafer Food Pantry employees arrived on Monday to load up their Mobile Food Pantry truck, they noticed one very major thing missing. The catalytic converter from the truck has been stolen.

“This is the second time this year the catalytic converter has been cut out from the vehicle,” said Erin Waldhart, the executive director of the Wafer Food Pantry.

Without a catalytic converter, it is a fire hazard for vehicles to operate. Without the mobile truck, the Wafer Food Pantry couldn’t deliver food to people in need.

“Its just a big time suck for our staff, you know were diverting our time away from fulfilling our mission,” said Waldhart.

The Mobile Pantry allows items such as meat, baked good, and raw produce to be delivered nearby to people in need and those who lack access to transportation.

“They’re critical for being able to provide such great fresh product for people,” said Waldhart.

According to Northside Automotive and Fleet, catalytic converters have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. The converters are often sold for the precious metals that are within the part.

“We’ve had several accounts with multiple vehicles get hit,” said Northside Automotive and Fleet owner Tim Marcou.

To prevent the converter from being stolen again, Northside Auto has created a safety measure for the Wafer vehicle.

“We fabricated a cage, went at least a foot and a half to two feet beyond it, and welded it directly to the frame of the vehicle,” said Marcou.

As for the Wafer Food Pantry, staff says the truck is a source of hope.

“Our staff know what that vehicle provides for people, the extreme value it has for people that need it,” said Waldhart.

Despite the setbacks, the food pantry will continue to keep make deliveries with its other vehicles. The other vehicles are not refrigerated, but the cold weather is helping Wafer get by.

“When we provide food to people and help them in their situations, we’re making our community better for all,” said Waldhart.

Wafer Food Pantry is accepting donations and volunteers are welcomed at the pantry.

As for the catalytic converters, Marcou says in order to keep vehicles safe, people should park their cars in well-lit areas. For larger vehicles or more expensive vehicles, he suggests getting a cage made to prevent theft.

Recent News Headlines from News 8 Now  
Wisconsin Democrats speak with La Crosse’s black community during town hall meeting 
Mindoro man crochets mittens to ward off cold for wife, other Mayo dialysis patients 
La Crosse city, county officials mull collaboration to buy Chamber of Commerce building to fight homelessness 
CDC takes over La Crosse area COVID-19 genome sequencing after grant money runs out