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18 catalytic converters stolen from Plainville school bus yard: police

Officials said 18 catalytic converters were stolen in the overnight hours between Monday and Tuesday.

PLAINVILLE, Conn. — More than a dozen catalytic converters were stolen from Plainville school buses overnight, police said.

Police said the incident happened in the overnight hours between Monday and Tuesday at an unknown time. Police said a person or group of people entered the DATTCO school bus property on South Canal Street in Plainville by cutting a large hole in the fence. There were surveillance cameras on the property.

Inside, 18 catalytic converters were stolen from school buses. 

The theft was found by a DATTCO employee shortly after 5 a.m., police said.

The district worked with DATTCO to isolate the impacted routes. Schools had their normal start time but some students who ride vans and smaller buses were delayed by two hours as DATTCO worked to get buses for use from other depots.

"The thinking was that we wanted to minimize disruption to the school district, to the students learning as much as possible," Superintendent Steve LePage said. "Quite an obstacle to overcome early in the morning."

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The district notified those families about the delay and allowed them to drive their student(s) to school if they wanted.

"Most of the students were getting on the buses. Some had been brought in," LePage said. 

Some of the routes that were impacted involved students who commute from Hartford as well as students with special needs.

Bryony Chamberlain with DATTCO said it could take weeks to get the vehicles repaired. She said losing 18 buses is a large number and they're lucky they had replacements.

"There’s ongoing supply chain issues so I don’t know when I’ll be able to get the catalytic converters to get these vehicles back on the road," she said.

Routes will not be disrupted moving forward. The superintendent said this type of vandalism emphasizes the importance of education for young children.

"Really teaching our kids the impact of our actions on others," he said. "It's important that our kids know doing the right thing is important."

The district has become another victim in the ongoing catalytic converter theft issue hitting Connecticut. Ten buses were impacted in Manchester in July. Several more were stolen from buses in Vernon as school started in the fall.

Many are stolen from personal vehicles as well, with some instances resulting in shots fired. A bill passed in the Public Safety and Security Committee last month would make it more complicated for places to sell and buy the pieces, with the goal to discourage the crime. 

MORE: State bill aims to discourage catalytic converter thefts as auto shops see increase in stolen parts 

Police continue to investigate the thefts. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Steven Chase at 860-747-1616 ext. 283.

RELATED: Police arrest man allegedly trying to break into cars at Southington elementary school

RELATED: Hamden community forum addresses uptick in crime

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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