Burlington County school forced to go virtual after thieves damage 12 school buses
Students at the Burlington County Special Services School were forced to go back to remote learning after someone damaged numerous school buses.
Westampton Township police say that 12 school buses had their catalytic converters stolen over the weekend, leaving the district scrambling to get students to school on Monday. The buses are owned by the school. Officials are hoping that surveillance video can help solve the crime.
“The video is not too clear. It’s kind of grainy. It shows a van or a small SUV backing up to the fence line. They gained access to the property by cutting a hole in the fence, went in and were out within minutes of the thefts,” says Lt. Brian Ferguson.
While police search for suspects, the school district was forced to cut certain bus routes for Monday and Tuesday.
The school superintendent said in a statement, "Both the BCIT and Special Services Districts were impacted by these criminal activities. For those students affected by the busing issues, namely for two days only, we provided alternative educational interventions during the disruption with the approval of the New Jersey Department of Education."
The cost of replacing the parts will be in the thousands.
Police say that they have had dozens of similar thefts since the start of the pandemic. They are asking residents and business owners to be on alert.
“If it is feasible, if you can have someone engrave the VIN number of your car on the actual outside of the converter, that would always help us,” Ferguson says. “Park your vehicle in the driveway if you have it, alarm it. If you have a camera system at your house, make sure it’s operational.”
The district did not say how long it will take for the buses to be operational once again. But all students will have transportation on Wednesday.