Thieves targeting school buses for parts

Thieves are targeting school buses, stealing thousands of dollars worth of parts.

Six catalytic converters and 66 batteries have been stolen this summer alone. It’s an ongoing issue that's costing Student Transportation of America big money.

Kevin Pinkleman, the Omaha area maintenance manager, said the thieves are using electric saws to cut the pipes underneath buses that connect to the catalytic converters which are used to purify the air and meet EPA standards. Each converter costly nearly $900.

Meanwhile, the batteries are nearly $80 a pop. The combined cost to replace everything that is missing, nearly $11,000-not including the cost of labor.

"The bottom line is, you can't stop these people," John Fitch of A-1 Containers, a self-proclaimed junkyard man, tell us there is no way to prevent the crime.

"You can slow them down is all you can do."

Pinkleman tells 6 News, all three of the bus lots that have been targetted have security.

But that hasn't prevented the theft. In a statement, the STA general manager says they plan to increase security.

Fitch theorizes they're taking the parts to the scrap yards outside Omaha to sell.

"They're not going to sell it in Omaha," Fitch said. "They're going to sell it out of town to a core buyer, you know what I'm saying. That's going to take it and it's going to get washed in the system."

We spoke with a local scrap yard and they tell us no matter the size, batteries are bought for $5. Catalytic converters on the other hand, that depends on the condition and what's on the inside.

“The stuff is, they've got some precious metal inside," Fitch explained. "The biggest thing that is inside the catalytic converters is platinum. Platinum is where all of the good stuff is. Now some have more, some have less, depending on what they are.”

The price of platinum today is up $4 and the market value is $848 dollars.

If you were to scrap one of the stolen converters, you could get anywhere from $50 to $100.

We reached out to Omaha Public Schools about the thefts and they tell us the STA is handling the losses as they come in and it won't have an impact on the upcoming school year.

As always, if you have seen anything suspicious around the bus lots or at a scrap yard, contact Omaha Police.