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Catalytic converter thefts put Centennial School District buses out of order

Catalytic converter thefts put Bucks County school district buses out of order
Catalytic converter thefts put Bucks County school district buses out of order 02:13

WARMINSTER, Pa. (CBS) – Surveillance images of an alleged thief who cut out the catalytic converters from five school buses in one Bucks County district have been released. The incident forced bus drivers to double up routes.

Officials warn some sports programs may now be in limbo. 

The theft happened early Monday morning. 

Police are reviewing multiple surveillance cameras from the property to identify who did it. 

When it hits home it's infuriating," Centennial School District Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden said.

On Monday, the Centennial School District in Warminster became the latest victim in a growing trend in catalytic converter thefts, just two weeks after criminals stripped nine from Moorestown High School in New Jersey.

"Five of our buses were inoperable because the catalytic converters had been stolen," Bedden said.

Video obtained exclusively by CBS Philadelphia shows at least one thief sneaking into Centennial's covered lot where the suspect proceeds to saw off five of the exhaust emission devices, running them back and forth to an opening cut into a perimeter fence.

 "You're basically hurting children," Bedden said, "and impacting children getting to and from school and their education."

Centennial's lead mechanic showed CBS Philadelphia one of the buses stranded by the heist 

Bedden says the crime forced transportation officials to scramble to get students to and from class, doubling up routes in some cases.

 "They ended up putting kids on 65 passenger buses," she said, "hoping that all were not riding because if all were riding, then they couldn't get them all on the bus."

Bedden also warns some sports programs may be impacted until all of the buses are back. 

The district has ordered replacement parts and is looking at options like covers to help deter future incidents.

All in all, it won't be an easy or cheap fix.

 "We're trying to assess options," Bedden said, "but that could run easily $50,000 more."

The district hopes to get four of the buses back by Friday, while the other is still uncertain. 

 Warminster police are leading this investigation. Anyone with information is asked to give them a call.

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