MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – Eight of Maple Heights City Schools‘ fleet of buses are inoperable after their catalytic converters were stolen in the early morning hours on Thursday.

“Two converters each, so a total of 16 thefts and total in damages would be around 30 grand,” said Officer Harbeen Kaur.

“Just shocking and just surprised that someone would do something like this,” said District Superintendent Charlie Keenan. 

He says the theft was discovered by their transportation director who acted quickly. 

“She was able to work with her transportation staff to make some modifications, change routes, change busses, you know, thankfully we had minimal delays on that day.”

A detective was at the bus yard Friday as the investigation is ongoing. Kaur shared descriptions of the suspects that were caught on camera between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. 

“A male in a red hoodie, black pants, black ski mask and black gloves and another male in all black.”

She says these thefts are linked to very similar thefts happening in the surrounding cities. 

“It’s vehicles, now busses — actually, this is the first time I’ve seen school busses get hit.”

Unfortunately, they seem to be on the rise. 

“I didn’t hear about it as much like a couple of years ago, whereas now it’s something that happens like daily.”

Right now, the district has been able to cover all transportation with the other 10 busses. 

“Working on trying to get these buses repaired and sometimes with finding replacement parts, there’s a delay. We’re fortunate to have four that are going to be rush ordered, so half will be repaired hopefully by Monday which will be a huge help,” said Keenan.

But it’s still disappointing and frustrating that it had to happen. 

“It’s a shame for the folks that did this that they don’t think about the impact this has, you know, on kids and their families and how difficult it is for some people to even get to school and transportation.”

The district says they had added security at the bus yard too and are looking at other ways to enhance security and deterrents to keep this from happening again.

If anyone has information on the theft and suspects, you can call the Maple Heights Police Department’s non-emergency number.