Thief steals catalytic converter from bus, hurts program for adults with special needs

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Bus for Quality Independence in Port Charlotte. Credit: WINK News.

Independence was stripped away from adults who require assistance boarding a bus.

A thief in the night stole the catalytic converter from a bus that belongs to Quality Independence in Port Charlotte, leaving the group scrambling to find a way to get around.

David Tucker stretches his body and mind at Quality Independence in Port Charlotte.

“I like the different activities and learning that we do,” said Tucker, an attendee at Quality Independence.

Some of those activities include a lot of the learning the adults in the special needs group do away from Quality Independence.

But the program had to slam the brakes on those field trips.

“We don’t have all of the transportation now that the bus is down,” Tucker said.

“They had a long pipe, and they stole it from our program,” said Sheryll Estrada, an attendee with Quality Independence.

Quality Independence bought a handicap-accessible bus in May, but a thief ripped out the catalytic converter when it was parked in the lot last week.

Now, the program needs to spend hundreds of dollars to get the bus rolling again.

“They came and pretty much crawled underneath it and cut it out,” said Tim Castro, a mechanic with Race Ready Auto Repair.

The program’s adults with physical limitations must use outside transportation to get to and from the program at this time.

“They had that lift,” Estrada said. “It brings up the wheelchair and the walker.”

They can use another van, but it’s not handicap accessible.

“It would be nice to go on the bus,” Estrada said.

Tucker hopes the thief doesn’t get away easy.

“I feel bad that he did that and wish that he gets what he deserves from doing it,” Tucker said.

A nearby business handed surveillance footage to law enforcement. The sheriff’s office told us it’s dealing with increase of catalytic converter thefts in Charlotte County.

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