Metal thieves target cars helping elderly

On a typical Monday, Harry A. McGonigle eats a well-balanced lunch as part of a Red Cross food program while socializing with other seniors in the bustling lunchroom of the Linwood Senior Center.

But on this Monday, McGonigle, 78, dined on cheese crackers and potato chips.

He was the only program participant around. The others had gone home after learning from a sign on the door that the Good Neighbor Nutrition Program run by the American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter had been shut down for the day.

Thieves had stripped the catalytic converters out of 11 Red Cross vehicles sometime between Thursday night and early Monday morning, police said. The thieves slipped inside the chain link fence surrounding the parking lot behind the chapter's office at 1900 E. Douglas, crawled beneath six trucks, four cars and a mini-van, and cut off the converters with a cutting torch, they said.

The holiday introduced Wichita to a national trend. Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise because they contain the precious metals platinum, palladium and rhodium.

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