San Jose

Costly Theft Puts Brakes on Mobile Shower Unit for the Homeless

A mobile shower unit that serves homeless people in the South Bay is stuck in park after thieves stole a critical part from the van that hauls the trailer around town.

The charity Casa de Clara uses the trailer to provide hot showers to more than 100 people who are living on the streets in San Jose, but last week, thieves stole the catalytic converter off the van, putting the brakes on the mobile shower unit.

The charity sets up the trailer in three locations across San Jose every week and provides people with showers, toiletries, fresh shirts, socks and underwear. Charity workers also dish out a hot meal and some food to go.

"Having regular access to showers, the number one thing is it helps people recognize their own dignity as a human being, but also it's a crucial part of just people's general well-being and their efforts to get back into permanent housing," Casa de Clara Director Andrew Lanier said.

Replacing the catalytic converter is going to cost $3,000 — more than the van is worth and about what it costs to run the program for two months.

Casa de Clara is a small charity supported mostly by individual donors. People interested in helping the charity can click here.

Some Bay Area police departments have warned of an increase in thefts involving catalytic converters. Authorities say people can protect their vehicles by parking them in a garage, putting up motion-sensing lights or installing surveillance cameras in plain view to deter thieves.

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