Police: Suspects saw school bus catalytic converters at Columbus daycare

Because its buses were impossible to drive, 12 families who rely on the buses to take their children to school have been inconvenienced.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jason McGee started one of his preschool buses on Monday and instantly knew something was wrong.

“It looked like a tank,” he said.

Two buses at Primrose School in Upper Arlington were hit by thieves Sunday night.

He captured the whole thing on a surveillance camera and reported it to the Columbus police.

“We see catalytic converter thefts everywhere, whether your car is parked on a well-lit roadway or even in someone’s driveway,” the Columbus Division Police Sgt. James Fouqa.

McGee said that because his buses were impossible to drive, 12 families who relied on the buses to take their children to and from school were inconvenienced and there was a loss of income for his school by not can’t lead these children.

He estimates the damage to his two buses at approximately $4,000.

“They stayed here for about an hour and a half, which amazed me,” he said.

Why did the suspects stay so long?

A steel plate the school installed under the bus to prevent thefts like this slowed down the suspects.

“The catalytic converter that has the shield is still in place because it has the shield on it because they couldn’t get through the shield but they had already cut the pipe so it’s just inside the guard,” said McGee.

Unable to obtain the catalytic converter, school surveillance video caught the suspects walking away with two other converters they sawed off.

Over the course of five days, 10TV scoured reports from Columbus and found there were 10 reported thefts of catalytic converters in the city from April 5-10.

10TV has been highlighting catalytic converter crimes for weeks. We told you about the police destruction of a suspected catalytic converter ring in Franklin County, robberies at a repeatedly hit local ambulance company, and robberies at a life care alliance that serves meals on wheels where thieves have punched a hole in their fence to steal them.

You can read the latest coverage below.

Police say the companies aren’t the only ones worried about the rise in catalytic converter thefts.

“One of the unusual places where there seems to be a spike are residential areas specifically for apartment complexes,” said Sgt. Fuqua.

As for McGee, he wonders what more he can do.

“As soon as it’s fixed it could happen again that night, there’s nothing else I can do to make it happen [safer],” he says.

The police advise people to park their car in a garage. Otherwise, park in well-lit areas with lots of foot traffic to deter thieves.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals which make them valuable for sale. Ohio ranks eighth in the nation for catalytic converter thefts.

Under Ohio law, all scrap dealers are “required to have a photograph of the seller, a driver’s license or ID card, the license plate of the vehicle transporting the material, a list details of the materials and, in some cases, a photograph of the item(s) sold”.

Additionally, all transactions are supposed to be entered into a searchable database and reported to the state.

Scrap dealers can face a crime if they don’t comply.

State Representative Bob Young introduced House Bill 408 which seeks to strengthen Ohio’s scrap metal laws.

CrimeTracker 10: recent coverage ⬇️

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