WEST CHESTER, Ohio — Day care staff at All About Kids Childcare and Learning Center Lakota want to know who’s responsible for stealing three catalytic converters from the company's fleet of buses. The thefts, caught on camera, happened on a Saturday earlier this month and put three of the five vehicles the day care uses out of commission.
“I think these people are local,” said Operations Coordinator Alex Kaiser. “They’ve driven by here multiple times and felt the place out.”
Kaiser is working with the Butler County Sheriff’s office to figure out who crawled under the buses and hopes the public can help with any leads.
“I guarantee you they are talking to people,” he said. “That’s why I’m not giving up on it because you’re not just going to come to our business and take from us and get away with it.”
Now the facility only has two working buses that can carry around 14 students at a time, Kaiser says. The lack of space is forcing them to cancel all winter field trips.
Kaiser says they could be without the three buses for months because the replacement parts are experiencing shipping delays.
In an effort to prevent further thefts, Kaiser says the business is upping security measures.
“We’ve installed five additional cameras,” he said. “We’re going to work on lighting up our parking lot more and install motion censors.”
The thefts aren't just happening in Butler County, according to crime reports from Cincy Insights, auto part thefts are on up from November until now.
Matt Overbeck of Overbeck Auto Services says thieves are motivated to steal these parts for their resale value.
“Some of these converters have a scrap value in excess of $1,000,” said Overbeck.
Last year, Overbeck told us he was seeing victims of these thefts coming in several times a week. He says the cost to replace the missing converters can be two-to-three times what thieves are selling them for.
Kaiser was quoted between $8,000 and $10,000 to fix the three damaged buses.
Overbeck suggests investing in a metal plate that goes over the converter.
“Its fastened in place to deter a thief from being able to get to that catalytic converter,” said Overbeck.
In 2016, an Ohio Law was enacted that prohibits scrap yards from buying more than one converter from an individual per day.