CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Men were caught on surveillance camera recently stealing from a place where children come to learn.
“We didn’t find out until yesterday afternoon. When we went to put the children on the van after the academy got out to take them where they needed to go, we discovered the catalytic converters had been stolen,” said Apple Tree Learning Center President Heidi Riden.
Riden says surveillance video shows two men orchestrating the larceny of catalytic converters on the learning center’s vans Sunday around 8:30 p.m., but they didn’t discover the missing van parts until yesterday.
Riden says the noise the vans made was a dead giveaway.
“It’s a terrible noise, so when you start the vehicle it’s extremely loud because it’s part of your exhaust system,” Riden said.
The surveillance video shows a man enter the frame with a saw then climb under the car.
A few moments later, another man in a car pulls up and looks out. He later helps put the pieces in the car.
She says each van has two catalytic converters because of their size, so ultimately the men got away with four of them.
Riden says the van repairs are going to cost them $3,000, and they now need to rework their transportation schedules.
Catalytic converters are a piece of the exhaust system that contain high-value metals, which is why they are valuable and cost more to replace than other parts of the exhaust.
Changing transportation arrangements comes at a bad time.
“Our academy kids actually have a field trip next week. It’s their big Christmas field trip where they go and watch the play at Wells Theatre… So, we’re trying to figure that one out because we usually use three vans for that. With two of them having to get repaired, it’s going to cause a hardship,” Riden said.
Chesapeake police say the incident is under investigation and they do not yet know who the suspects are.
Riden is asking anyone who knows anything about the incidents to please give them a call.
Last week, WAVY.com spoke to a man who said the catalytic converter was stolen from his vehicle stranded on the side of the road in Suffolk.
In response to the incident and an inquiry by WAVY, Suffolk Police said catalytic converter theft happens sporadically and in clusters.