Brazen thieves have left a public school district with 19 inoperable school buses and a $70,000 repair bill after they sawed off the vehicles’ catalytic converters.
The Reynolds School District in Fairview, Oregon is parking 19 of its school buses for what could be months, reports KOIN news. On the night of September 11, thieves cut the catalytic converters out of about 17 percent of the district’s 115 buses and three other fleet vehicles.
As a quick reminder, catalytic converters use some valuable metals to collect exhaust pollutants. Forget your cheap aftermarket radio, cats are the new things to steal. Vehicles with a high ground clearance are easy targets for thieves to slide under, coming out with a cat in mere seconds. A vehicle can start and run without a catalytic converter, but it’ll be excruciatingly loud and may be down on power.
The district says that the damage to the buses — many of them Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2s powered by chunky eight liter liquid propane gas engines — adds up to about $70,000. The buses are insured but the district will have to wade through parts shortages to get them back on the road.
Thieves got into the yard and stole the converters despite some tall fencing and cameras. The district believes that there are multiple people involved and its camera footage shows someone scoping out buses before walking away, cats in hand. Police are reviewing the footage and the district hopes that scrapyards won’t take the stolen converters.
Catalytic converter thefts have been on a meteoric rise through the pandemic. Estimates of the numbers of cats stolen this year vary between source, with auto insurer State Farm noting that it has dealt with over 18,000 claims as of July, a 293 percent increase over last year. Thieves have gotten brazen enough to steal cats in broad daylight and from under sleeping people.
Stealing a catalytic converter is scummy enough, but stealing from a school is on another level. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident as school buses from a number of districts have been victims of cat thefts.
Thankfully, Reynolds School District is able to substitute in some other buses and the kids will still be able to get to school. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is reaching out to the public for any tips on who did this.