Thieves Steal Catalytic Converters from Five MEO Buses at Puʻunēnē Baseyard
Maui Economic Opportunity is reporting the theft of five catalytic converters from the organization’s fleet of buses at its Puʻunēnē base yard.
According to the organization, the thefts occurred between Friday, July 23 and Monday, July 26, when a thief or thieves cut through the fence line of the base yard facing Maui Veterans “Mokulele” Highway.
Organization leaders say the incident comes as the nonprofit agency faces tight budgets and will cost $6,000 to $7,000.
One bus, an eight passenger with wheelchair accessibility, is part of MEO’s Maui Bus American With Disabilities Act paratransit fleet. It’s catalytic converter was stolen at around 1:30 a.m. on July 23, 2021. The other four 23-passenger buses are used to transport persons with disabilities, youth and kupuna. Catalytic converter thefts from those vehicles occurred between the evening of July 24 and the morning of July 26, according to MEO.
The loss of the paratransit bus while it undergoes repairs will be absorbed without affecting service, said Patty Copperfield, MEO Director of Transportation. The catalytic converter thefts on the larger buses are more problematic with the reopening of school and Kaunoa Senior Services programs, she added. If the buses are not repaired in time, MEO Transportation still can transport all clients, though multiple runs may be required.
The thieves reportedly cut the exhaust and stole the device. “Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals, like platinum, palladium or rhodium, that are valuable to metal dealers,” and are often sold to scrap yards, according to information posted at the Allstate Insurance website.
“These thefts could not have come at a worse time,” said MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe, noting that insurance will not cover the cost of repairs and parts replacement. “In addition, the four larger buses are part of our Human Services transportation system, which was gearing up for the reopening of kupuna activities and schools next week. We will make do, but it is frustrating.”
MEO staff members and a contract security company are monitoring the property, according to Cabebe.
Anyone with information on the thefts can call the Maui Police Department non-emergency number at 808-244-6400 and reference report numbers 21-025629 and 21-025987.