PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Six buses transporting children with disabilities to a school run by Easter Seals were attacked by a catalytic converter thief sometime Wednesday night into Thursday.
An employee started the buses around 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning and heard a terrible noise.
“He came in and said, ‘You got us again,'” said Fran Hagarty, the department manager for Easter Seals Southeastern Pennsylvania.
This is the third time someone has pointed buses at the Conshohocken Avenue location. This time someone cut catalytic converters from five buses and was partially through a sixth. They stopped cutting this one for unknown reasons.
Philadelphia police said the damage will cost around $20,000 to repair.
But the impact on the children who count on Easter Seals’ services is difficult to quantify.
The non-profit organization offers around 100 children in the region disability assistance.
“It is certainly inconceivable that anyone would target us. So we’re hoping that people will see the weaknesses — not just of the children we serve, but of the program itself,” Hagarty said as tears came to his eyes.
These thefts are part of a growing trend in Philadelphia. In 2022, 5,243 catalytic converter thefts have been reported so far. That’s nearly double the 2,617 thefts reported in 2021 and seven times the 767 thefts reported in 2020.
Easter Seals is looking at ways to adapt to ensure children can rely on them for transport and still be able to get to school for specialized help.
“We will have about six buses out of service, which will likely mean that some of our children will not be able to get to school,” said Rufus Thomas, who works for Easter Seals.
The nonprofit is talking to police about ways to protect their vehicles, but putting up a fence would be prohibitively expensive.
The buses will likely take months to repair due to a backlog of parts and service.
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https://6abc.com/catalytic-converter-theft-easter-seals-buses-special-needs-kids-with-disabilities/12464120/ Buses for students with special needs targeted in Wynnefield Heights catalytic converter theft