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Buses from the Sherwood childcare center for disabled kids targeted by catalytic converter thieves



Little Rock, Arkansas – For the seventh time in three months, robbers stole a catalytic converter from a bus containing children with disabilities in Sherwood over the weekend.

For kids with developmental challenges aged six weeks to six years old, North Hills Services, Inc. offers preschool services and specialized therapy.

“We’re a small, private nonprofit. We work with primarily developmentally disabled children too young to go to school. Birth to six. Primarily a Medicaid-funded facility,” said Stacy-Lynn Hobby, Executive Director of North Hills Services, Inc.

The facility’s first theft was found the following Monday when staff members returned from their Halloween weekend off.

The personnel of the center called their insurance provider and the Sherwood police while the disabled bus was being hauled.

Three additional buses owned by the center had their catalytic converters taken from early to mid-November. As a result, the center transferred the only three working vehicles it still had—a bus and two minivans—from the facility’s dead end on the rather remote Fred Rains Drive side to the bright North Hills Boulevard side.

It doesn’t seem to have stopped burglars.

Only one bus is currently in use at the center as a result of last weekend’s catalytic converter theft; the others are still being fixed or are awaiting replacement catalytic converters, which are becoming more difficult to get as a result of supply chain problems on a global scale.

Some children have been unable to access the services they require despite efforts to provide alternate transportation, such as operating vehicles running double trips. According to Hobby, many of the kids who attend the development center can only get there via the buses.

“It just seems to me that you really have to be an extra kind of a person to hit us. We don’t run making a lot of money, you know. Everything is tight,” Hobby said.

“To put us in this position, not only of having to pay to have all the repairs but then to hit us on the income side of it and then more importantly to impact our children–when they’re not coming here, they’re not receiving the services they need,” she said.

After the initial thefts of catalytic converters in late 2022, the center installed security cameras, although they have since been shown to be defective. According to Hobby, they have seen bugs that make it difficult to review video. The cameras are of low quality, according to the Sherwood Police Department.

The personnel of North Hills Services Inc. analyzed video from Thursday night through Monday morning on Tuesday to try and identify the culprit (s). Though it might not take long, as of the time this piece was being written, they had not identified the potential offender(s). The bus from which the most recent catalytic converter theft occurred was clearly visible on one camera.

Additionally, after the most recent theft, extra cameras were set up.

Due to repair costs, security measures, and fewer children in attendance, the thefts have cost North Hills Services, Inc. an estimated $30,000 to $40,000.

Police in Sherwood claimed that while they currently have no leads, they have enhanced patrols in the area of the facility.

Police advise companies to buy high-quality security cameras and to have one pointed at the street at all times.

Call the Sherwood Police Department Tip Line at (501) 835-1425, ext. 2, if you have any information about these thefts.