FRANKLIN — Owners of a preschool in Franklin are fed up. They’ve had their school buses vandalized several times by thieves now. A Kid City Academy bus is back once again at Beck Automotive, as thieves have stolen the catalytic converter off of one of their school buses for the fourth time.
“Those precious metals are worth a lot of money now and thieves take them, they run them down to a core buyer in Edinburgh, the core buyers pay cash for them and thieves can make 2 to 3 or $400 a night stealing,” said Ben Briggeman, Beck Automotive owner.
Preschool owner Jonella Salyers says it all started two years ago.
“[They] cut the brake line, caused a lot of damage,” said Salyers. “[It] cost us about $3000 to get everything fixed. We put in cameras at that time thinking that would help.”
But in the past six months, they’ve been hit three more times.
“This bus was just $2,600 yesterday to get the converter replaced. They did actually manage to take it,” she said. “We saw them on our cameras but unfortunately it was too dark to be able to see the license plate so now we have enlisted quotes to get parking lot lights. And that believe it or not is between $17-$20,000 just for four lights. But we feel like that’s our next step.”
At Beck’s, they’re doing all they can.
“We are replacing the catalytic converters and we’re putting on an anti-theft shield to prevent that happening in the future,” said Briggeman.
“How sad that that’s where we’ve gone?" said Salyers. “That’s what we have to do. But we are at a loss. What else can we do?”
Salyers says the thieves were in and out within 4 minutes when they stole the latest converter at 3 a.m/ last week.
“This is a school for little children,” the owner said. “It’s a safety issue, but it’s also my husband and I, this is a mom and pop thing. My husband and I own this. We have five children. I’ve been battling cancer for five years. We have a lot on our plate. So to have this come up is just disheartening.”
Because they use their buses every day, getting rid of them isn’t an option.
“Like today our kindergarten students, they’re on a field trip in Greenwood,” Salyers said. “We use the buses every day to pick up students from school. We go to the library on Fridays. The buses are a huge thing for us. But it’s a huge expense when they get broken or something happens to them.”