CLAREMONT – Sullivan County Transportation buses were taken out of service this week after thieves stole catalytic converters from six of the vehicles on Monday evening, according to a press release from Claremont Police.
The thefts took place between 5 p.m. Monday and 5 a.m. Tuesday morning outside a South West Community Services building where buses are parked along Charlestown Road, also known as Route 11, in south of downtown Claremont, the statement said.
Catalytic converters are exhaust emission control devices located under most cars and buses. Device theft has increased over the past year, in part due to the precious metals inside converters, some of which are worth more an ounce than gold.
Teri Palmer, director of transportation for SCS, said in an interview on Tuesday that the thefts forced the nonprofit to shut down regular service while the buses were taken to a local mechanic for repairs. She said mechanics had ordered parts for the buses by noon and that she hopes to have enough working buses to resume service by Thursday or Friday.
She said SCS operated a total of eight buses, but two were not in the parking lot during the theft. The organization needs four operational buses to resume service.
In the meantime, Palmer said, she and other SCS employees reached out to volunteer drivers, almost all of whom offered to help on Tuesday by accompanying people who otherwise depended on buses, including those who had to travel to appointments. you medical.
For some regular runners, the news of the thefts is likely to be a blow; the service operates around Claremont, Newport and Charlestown, offering rides that cost $ 2.50 between cities and up to $ 35 for an unlimited pass. Runners who suffer from medical conditions may qualify for free passes, according to the SCS website.
In 2019, when the service had four buses, annual ridership was around 29,000.
“It’s a horrible thing to do,” said Scott Blanchette, a resident of Charlestown Road, after hearing about the thefts. “I hope (the police) will catch them and make them pay back what they stole.”
Blanchette, who travels for free because he has diabetes, said he takes the bus about once a week to the grocery store or post office. He said the service is helping him because he doesn’t have the money to buy a car and helps others with similar transportation or mobility issues.
“It is essential for people living in apartments. … The youngest need it; low income people need it, ”he said. “It’s a service we always need here at Claremont.
Going forward, Palmer said SCS plans to consider moving the buses to a temporary rental garage to prevent further theft.
The Claremont Police Department has asked anyone with information about the incident to call Constable DJ O’Sullivan at 603-542-9538 or email him at [email protected]
Anna Merriman can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3216.