Sad News for Schools: Thieves Stole Catalytic Converters From School Buses

Schools, along with schoolchildren, teachers, and parents, have endured a rough time over the past year and a half. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted learning, with heated debates over school openings and vaccine and mask mandates. On top of that, there is a shortage of school bus drivers. Now, there’s even more sad news for schools. Some heartless thieves stole catalytic converters from school buses

The school bus catalytic converter theft cost the school district $70,000 in repairs

The thieves did the dastardly deed in the thick of night on September 11 at the Reynolds School District in Fairview, Oregon. Because of the theft, there are 19 inoperable school buses. In total, the school district has 115 school buses and three other vehicles, so the broken school buses are around 17% of the school district fleet. 

Many of the affected school buses are Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2s, which feature an eight-liter liquid propane gasoline engine. The cost to repair the school buses will be $70,000. While the school buses are insured, it could take many months before they are functional again. 

School districts are already pressed by the bus driver shortage, so the theft only makes matters worse. Fortunately, the Reynolds School District can fill the void and use replacement buses for the time being.

The police seek tips about the school bus catalytic converter theft

Row of school buses in a parking lot David L. Ryan The Boston Globe via Getty Images
A Row of School Buses | David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

RELATED: Here’s What It Costs to Rent a School Bus Like the 1 Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner Got Stormi

Unfortunately, the heartless thieves are still at large. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the crime. It is seeking tips from anyone who has information about the catalytic converter theft. As of now, it is not clear who may have committed this crime. Despite the presence of cameras and tall fencing, the thieves were able to make it into the yard and steal the catalytic converters. 

The Reynolds School District thinks that several people took part in the theft. It has camera footage, which shows a person checking out the school buses. Later, it shows this person walking away with the catalytic converters. For its investigation, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is reviewing the camera footage.

Another critical element in stopping the thieves is scrapyards. The thieves will likely eventually try to sell the converters to a scrapyard, so hopefully, the scrapyard will reject this and report the thieves to the police.

Why do thieves steal catalytic converters?

Thieves steal catalytic converters because the heavy metals in them are very valuable. Catalytic converters use heavy metals to collect exhaust pollutants. Sadly, theft of catalytic converters is a frequent occurrence, especially during the pandemic. State Farm Insurance stated that as of July, it has already received over 18,000 claims this year. This is nearly triple the amount from last year.

Also, school buses are an easy target for catalytic converter thieves. The theft at the Reynolds School District is not an isolated incident. With the high ground clearance of school buses, thieves can quickly slide under the buses and cut out the converters.

With the high value of heavy metals, it’s a challenge to stop so many thieves from stealing the converters. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to comprehend how people could sink so low to commit a crime that adversely affects schoolchildren. Hopefully, the police catch the callous thieves.

RELATED: Skoolie Life Problems: 5 Things You Should Know Before Making a School Bus Your Home