Crooks steal from Naugatuck Valley non-profit. Businesses step up to help keep its work going

New Haven

DERBY, Conn. (WTNH) — A non-profit ripped off.

The St. Vincent de Paul of the Valley Thrift Shoppe and Food Bank in Derby helps 200 families a month get the food they need to keep from going hungry. Workers at the non-profit often utilize their van to pick up the food from area grocery stores, store it and hand it out to families who come seeking assistance once a month. They also use the van to deliver food to people who are unable to get to the food bank.

But, overnight on July 3, two people were caught on surveillance camera helping themselves — stealing the van’s catalytic converter. These thefts have been happening all over Connecticut because they can fetch big bucks on the streets.

This theft caused confusion, pain, anger and concern.

“It was awful,” said Cindy Barbian, manager of the food bank and thrift store. “Everything goes through your mind. How are we going to pick up the food? How are we gonna get it back here? How are we gonna do anything to help the community when we have no van?”

They were also concerned, as a non-profit, how they would be able to afford a new catalytic converter, if they could find one.

“People were saying you can’t even buy catalytic converters, they’re on back order,” Barbian said.

But, just as they were trying to deal with being crime victims, a local business stepped up to show them something good can come out of a situation like this. The owner of A & S Nathan Heating and Cooling in Ansonia contacted them.

“They said ‘we’re here to help,'” Barbian said. “You’ve done so much for the community and we want to help you.”

And they did.

They offered to take care of their van. The owner of that business called the owner of another: Robert Trez, a friend who owns Penfield Service Center in Fairfield. Trez’s workers installed a new catalytic converter on the van for free.

“There’s nothing more crushing when a charity goes out of action because of all of the people that it does help,” Trez said.

For the folks at the food bank and the many families they help, it was good to see the van on the road again.

“I was just totally amazed that somebody would do that — to come out and help us when we needed it the most,” Barbian said.

Derby police are still investigating the theft. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Derby PD.

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