More than a dozen Arizona YMCA buses unusable because of catalytic converter thefts

The Valley of the Sun YMCA is asking for the public's help after 15 of the 40 buses they used to transport kids to afterschool programs have been damaged due to catalytic converter thefts.

A bus sitting idle in the parking lot of a YMCA in central Phoenix has become unusable after someone stole the catalytic converter from underneath it earlier this month.

"Starting a couple a months ago we had one, two buses missing catalytic converters," said Jenna Cooper with the YMCA. "We went to start our buses for our regular afterschool programs and there was just this terrible screeching noise."

Now, 15 of their buses have become inoperable because of the same problem.

"This has just been detrimental for us -- we use these buses everyday to get kids from school to the Y for essential childcare programs, and without these buses in operation, we just can't do that," said Cooper.

Cooper says the YMCA has been left scrambling because of the thefts. They're working with local law enforcement in each case to beef up patrols.

Their insurance is working on getting the buses repaired as quickly as possible, but they're hoping the public can help them with donations to pay for locking devices to prevent more catalytic converters from being stolen. They also hope to use the money to help reinforce their security at YMCA locations across the Valley.

"This is at least another $50,000 that we're going to need to have these protections in place," Cooper said.

The YMCA's hope is to keep these programs going that mean so much to so many people.

"It has been devastating to not only us, but all the families that we serve," Cooper said. It has been just the most unfortunate thing."

There were 259 reported catalytic converter thefts in January 2021, which is an increase from recent years.

The Phoenix Police Department recommends people park their vehicles in garages, fenced yards or well-lit areas.

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