Thieves swipe catalytic converter from school bus for special needs students in Norman

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma school district was targeted by crooks Monday. A catalytic converter was swiped from Little Axe Public Schools’ only bus for students with special needs. The district’s maintenance SUV was also reported stolen to the Norman Police Department.

“All we know is that we parked the bus Thursday evening and everything was working just fine,” said District Superintendent Dr. Jay Thomas. “Then Monday morning, when we came back to start the bus to run the route, it made a bad noise because the catalytic convertor had been cut off of it.”

That’s definitely not the way the school district likes to start off a school week. Thomas explained it’s their only bus equipped for students with disabilities.

“Number one, it really upset me because I think it’s a pretty low person that would do something like that to that bus,” he said. “Number two, it’s going to cost us just a little over $2,000 to fix that bus.”

Photo goes with story
The Little Axe school bus that was targeted by thieves.

The district quickly alerted Norman police about the crime and reached out to their bus company for a replacement bus.

“They didn’t have any to loan out or to lease out, so that put us in a really bad position,” Thomas said.

About 20 to 25 students depend on the bus, which has a wheelchair lift. Parents were left to scramble to find alternative ways to get their kids to school for three days.

Thomas gratefully shared that “Those parents were very understanding and they worked with us very well.”

The bus returned to duty Wednesday after a stay at the repair shop, but the bus wasn’t the thief’s only target Monday night. They also stole a catalytic convertor from a district-owned SUV used for maintenance and transporting students sick with COVID-19.

The damage to the bus and and SUV left Little Axe Schools with more than $3,000 in total repairs.

“So, that’s a little over $3,000 that we could have used in a lot of different places to be able to serve kids in a better way than making repairs on something that wasn’t needed,” Thomas said.

Norman Police tell KFOR they have no suspect information or description at this time.

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