EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Monday after the Thanksgiving break, bus drivers for the Region 19 Head Start Program came to work only to find their buses making some strange noises.
It was later they discovered that 28 catalytic converters had been stolen from buses and other Region 19 vehicles during the holiday break out of the Northeast El Paso lot.
Surveillance video shows two men walking on the property, and holes could be seen where a back fence of the property was cut.
Program officials showed KTSM 9 News the underside of buses where you could see where the catalytic converter had been cut out by what appears to have been a saw.
The Region 19 buses take over 1,000 students ages 0 to four years old to Head Start programs in El Paso.
“That’s really the most frustrating part of this event. It impacted children and it impacted families and we really hope that these perpetrators are caught,” said John Alarcon, the director of facilities, maintenance, transportation and support for Region 19.
However, it wasn’t just school buses that were impacted. Distribution trucks and a child nutrition truck were also hit. That impacted the delivery of meals to schools.
“We only missed one route the first day Monday, but as of Tuesday, we were able to get all routes covered. But we have no spares at this point, so keeping the current buses running, it’s a huge priority so we can continue services,” Alarcon said.
KTSM 9 News asked about how much it will cost to replace the stolen catalytic converters.
“We don’t have a whole dollar amount yet, but it’s probably going to be a six-figure number just to get all the 28 vehicles up and running again,” Alarcon said.
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers of El Paso at 915-566-8477 (TIPS).