PAULS VALLEY, Okla. (KFOR) – Pauls Valley detectives are investigating a rash of catalytic converter thefts hitting the city, after four school buses and a local mechanic shop were hit in the span of just a few days.
“It’s a very expensive fix, but can also make some quick money for the bad guys,” said Pauls Valley Police Chief Mitch McGill. “A bad guy takes a battery operated saw, lays down and cuts your catalytic converter off, and is gone in a matter of probably seconds, if not a few minutes.”
The car part filters out toxic chemicals from a car’s exhaust system, but also contains precious metals inside like palladium and platinum.
“On the criminal side of the market, they’re somewhere between $600 to $800 dollars to a scrap yard,” said the police chief.
The superintendent said after insurance, the district is about $4,000 in the hole.
“It’s $2,300 per bus,” said Pauls Valley Public Schools Superintendent Mike Martin. “Because someone’s not willing to get out and work and make an honest living. It’s frustrating.”
The timing couldn’t be worse for Pauls Valley Public Schools. The district is currently budgeting to buy classroom disinfectants to fight off the new wave of COVID-19, as kids head back to school.
“We could’ve bought four of those with what this is going to cost us to make these repairs for the buses,” Martin said.
Now, the district is beefing up it’s security, hoping to catch the crooks.
“If you’re responsible, know I have 25 camera systems that have been set up at our high school and our bus barn,” said the superintendent. “We see you.”
Police said they’re going to be working with the county to figure out where these parts are ending up, because there are no salvage yards within Pauls Valley Police jurisdiction.
So far, no one has been arrested, but the culprit will face grand larceny charges, which is a felony.
“They’re not going to stop until we catch them. So, anybody that has information, please contact the Pauls Valley Police Department,” said Chief McGill.