Oshkosh school bus service to resume after catalytic converter thefts

OSHKOSH – Bus service will return on schedule for the Oshkosh Area School District on Friday after the district was forced to cancel transportation to and from school on Thursday due to thefts of catalytic converters in Tuesday and Wednesday night.

According to the School District and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, thieves stole fleet catalytic converters from Kobussen Buses, 3034 Omro Road, Oshkosh.

The district faced transportation delays on Wednesday and had to cancel bus service on Thursday, which could impact 2,106 kindergarten through high school students taking the bus. However, Katie Nieman, director of communications for the district, said normal bus service is expected to return on Friday.

Nieman said many buses in Oshkosh are facing repairs, Kobussen is able to move its buses that serve other school districts that aren’t in session tomorrow.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office patrol captain Greg Cianciolo said the sheriff’s office received a phone call at 6:08 a.m. Thursday about another break-in in Kobussen.

Cianciolo said 27 catalytic converters were stolen Wednesday night. On Tuesday, eight catalytic converters were stolen and two buses were damaged.

The district sent emails and text messages to parents alerting them to the situation on Wednesday and Thursday, asking parents to “make alternate plans for getting their children to and from school,” according to a statement from school district press.

After the additional flights on Wednesday night, the district canceled all transportation Thursday except for after-school activities or field trips because Kobussen was able to bring in a small number of buses on short notice, according to the district.

Cianciolo said that over the past two years there has been a sharp increase in thefts in the area. While he couldn’t give an exact number of increases in catalytic converter thefts, Cianciolo said it’s become a trend that law enforcement has seen a lot more of.

“We know that’s more than we’ve seen in the past, and (catalytic converter thefts) have certainly become more prominent over the past two years,” Cianciolo said.

Prices for precious metals in catalytic converters, such as palladium and rhodium, have soared to overtake the price of gold, and national police have reported an increase in thefts.

Cianciolo said the sheriff’s office is investigating Kobussen’s theft. He said the office was analyzing video footage and working on several possible leads.

Contact Bremen Keasey at 920-570-5614 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @Keasinho.

Melvin Z. Madore