More than seven paratransit buses owned by Northshore Senior Center in Bothell were vandalized when thieves stole the catalytic converters out of them last weekend.
The incident seems to be a part of what has been a rash of catalytic converter thefts across the region in the past year.
King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tim Meyer said catalytic converter thefts have been at an uptick since last summer, with hundreds of reported thefts since.
Meyer said the precious metals in the catalytic converters can be melted down and sold at a price higher than gold by weight, making them a lucrative trade.
According to Meyer, KCSO has even tasked a group of detectives to help mitigate the issue by investigating the markets in which the catalytic converters are sold.
Northshore Senior Center CEO Brooke Knight estimated that replacing the catalytic converters would cost about $2,500 each, and the parts are in short supply.
With seven of the 10 buses owned by the senior center unable to be used, Knight is concerned about being able to continue providing the vital meal delivery and transportation services to the elderly members of the community.
She said seniors depend on the para-transit buses not only for free meals and rides to medical important appointments like kidney dialysis, but will also likely depend on them to access urgently needed COVID-19 vaccinations.
“People are relying on them to stay healthy and to stay fed,” Knight said. “I hope people have patience with us, we are still here and working hard.”
This story originally appeared in the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter, a sister publication to The Herald.