LIBERTY, Mo. — Several public schools in the Kansas City area have seen a recent uptick in automobile vandalism.
The thieves are targeting catalytic converters, which contain rare and valuable metals, often by cutting off the vehicles' mufflers.
“They just sawed it off,” said William Swank, a mechanic at Adam’s Muffler and Brakes. "They don’t cut it straight, which makes my job harder
Three catalytic converters were stolen Thursday from Liberty High School students' vehicles as they sat in the school parking lot.
“Got a lot of gaul to do something like that in the middle of the day," Swank said. "We have had them come from Liberty Hospital. We’ve had them come from all kinds of parking lots. I don’t know, I’ve never laid under a car in a school parking and done that. I am thinking they are in and out in five to 10 minutes.”
Catalytic converters were a hot item for thieves several years ago, but apparently it’s a thing again — and not just in Liberty.
The Hickman Mills School District said 13 cars have had stolen catalytic converters or mufflers during the last two months, including several at Ruskin High School and four other schools.
A district spokesperson said they have notified staff about the thefts and will increase patrols in the parking lots.
Liberty said it's reviewing surveillance video and working with the Liberty Police Department regarding thefts there.
Damage repairs can cost a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars.
“Some people might not have a lot of money and they drive it for a week until they get their paycheck, so, yes, it could be dangerous," Swank said.