Catalytic Converter Thefts Threaten Rides For Elderly, Disabled
14 Vehicles In Agency's Fleet Damaged
8:26 AM, May 17, 2012
A rash of catalytic converter thefts has a Johnson County agency struggling to provide critical rides to the elderly and disabled.A driver for Access Johnson County arrived at work Tuesday morning to find catalytic converters stripped from 14 of the bus service's 30 vehicles."One of our drivers arrived to do his pre-trip inspection. When he started his vehicle, he realized that the catalytic converter was missing," Operations Director Dan Mustard said.The agency, which is part of Gateway Services, is the county's public transportation system and makes up to 200 trips a day to take passengers, many of whom are elderly or disabled, to work, doctors appointments and other destinations.In the wake of the thefts, some drivers used their personal vehicles to transport passengers."This is my only means of transportation. Why anybody would steal all those, I don't know," rider Ellen Keith said.Access Johnson County Transportation Director Becky Allen said all but five calls for same-day service were completed Tuesday.Police said the thefts happened sometime between 10 p.m. Monday and 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.It's the fourth time catalytic converters have been stolen from Access Johnson County vehicles in the past three years. The most recent was in February, when four vehicles were vandalized, Allen said.It will cost Access Johnson County about $7,000 to cover the insurance deductible for each vehicle that was vandalized, Allen said. Meanwhile, the agency has rented four temporary replacement vehicles.