BUENA PARK – A car part that helps with emissions was cut out of three Boys & Girls Club vans over the Thanksgiving weekend – rendering them unusable and causing delays in picking up children after school.
“Of all people, you got to do to this to us?” said Todd Trout, head of the Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park. “Come on, criminals. I feel like the orphanage who got their presents stolen.”
The stolen parts were catalytic converters, which convert harmful pollutants of combustion into less-harmful emissions. Only one of the club’s four vans was left untouched.
The theft was discovered during the club’s daily van inspections Monday afternoon, Trout said.
A program director went to start one of the vans, and it made a grinding noise. People started looking around to figure out what was wrong, and they found debris underneath the van. They called a mechanic, who told them immediately what happened: Someone had taken a hacksaw and cut out the converters.
The Boys & Girls Club is on Knott Avenue south of Thelma Avenue. The three 15-passenger vans were parked in the back of the building behind gates. The one that wasn’t vandalized was parked in plain sight in the front.
The club has dealt with gas theft numerous times, Trout said. This is the first time anyone has cut out the converters.
Catalytic-converter thefts have not been common for years, said Lt. Kevin Shea of the Buena Park Police Department. Shea estimated each converter was worth about $800.
The vans, all of which have a Boys & Girls Club logos on the sides, are worth $22,000 to $28,000 each, Trout said. A mechanic told the club the repairs will cost $1,500 to $2,000 for each van.
In the interim, Simpson Buick GMC of Buena Park is lending the club five-passenger minivans to pick up the 120 kids. Because of a variety of state regulations, the club cannot rent 15-passenger vans.
“We have a responsibility to pick up the kids at a reasonable time,” he said, “but we can only do what we can do.”
By REBECCA KHEEL / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced Orange County Bail Bondsman to assist you in any bail situation.