Franklin preschool shells out more than $30k after 3 catalytic converter thefts in 6 months

Indianapolis Area Crime

FRANKLIN, Ind. — Kid City Academy said it has had three catalytic converters stolen from its buses in the past six months. Owners Mitch and Jonella Salyers have shelled out thousands to fix the buses and try and prevent them from being hit again.

“This is a mom-and-pop business with my husband and I, our five children. Like I said I’ve been battling cancer for five years so money is tight for us and so for this to come up is very discouraging,” Jonella said.

Each time a converter has been stolen its costs the Salyers $2,600 to replace. They decided to add protective guards to the buses to try and prevent future thefts at a total cost of $3,000. The Salyers said they also just paid $22,000 to have lights installed in their parking lot to deter thieves.

“To have this happen, and yes there is the maintenance to keep the buses, but to fix and repair vandalism; that’s not something we have in our budget so we’ve actually had to take it from our savings,“ Salyers said.

 The Johnson County Sheriffs Office said the problem has gotten better over the past couple of months but is still an issue they’re dealing with.

“A couple months ago, coming up to July, we were getting pretty hard countywide. Every police department was getting cases about every other day,” Detective Joe Pierce said.

Thieves were targeting people’s personal cars at one point but Pierce said that’s changed in recent months.

“I think we’ve seen the trend slide towards the businesses,” Pierce said. “Small utility businesses that will have the work vans, work trucks.”

Outside of the Kid City Academy, other schools have been targeted as well. The sheriff’s office is investigating a theft at Adventures Child Care from October when thieves targeted one of the daycare’s buses.

Surveillance video shows thieves swipe a catalytic converter from Adventures Child Care on Oct. 15.

“For this to happen this many times in such a short amount of time, you know, it’s very disheartening,” Salyers said.

Some Kid City Academy parents started a GoFundMe for the Salyers to help alleviate some of the burden.

If you’d like to donate you can click here.

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