PLAINVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) – Nearly 20 catalytic converters were stolen from school buses in Plainville, police said.

DATTCO confirmed to News 8 that thieves sawed off catalytic converters from 18 smaller buses and vans at the DATTCO bus yard on Old Canal Road.

Plainville police said the incident happened in the overnight hours between Monday and Tuesday at an unknown time. The thefts were discovered by a DATTCO employee just after 5 a.m.

Police said the suspect or suspects entered the property by cutting a large hole in the fence, which has since been fixed.

Bryony Chamberlain, DATTCO’s vice president of operations, said it could take weeks to get the vehicles repaired.

“Luckily, we have spare vehicles in the fleet, so after today [Tuesday], the kids won’t be impacted anymore but still a lot of costs go into repairing all of this,” Chamberlain said.

It’ll cost tens of thousands of dollars for DATTCO to replace the converters. AAA says it’s a cost that insurance does cover.

“Costs can range anywhere between $500 and a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the car, and hopefully, you have coverage under your home insurance policy,” Fran Mayko with AAA Northeast said.

It’s the precious metals that thieves are after. The price tag of one ounce of palladium is valued at nearly $2,500. The newer OEM converters hold the most value and can net a profit of up to $2,800.

Steve Angelillo, the owner of CT Metals and Converter Recycling, said a new law requires anyone selling a catalytic converter to a motor vehicle recycler to provide proof they own the vehicle.

“When I take them, I have to ask for ID, take a picture of material, a picture of the person bringing them in, and we try to get their license number as well,” Angelillo said.

The catalytic converter must also still be attached to the vehicle. Angelillo said most scrapyards aren’t buying them. so thieves are going on the black market.

To help keep thieves from stealing your catalytic converter, Angelillo suggested getting a deterrent since these thieves are persistent.

“They are going in garages now,” Angelillo said. “It’s a never-ending thing. You have to make it hard for them.”

Angelillo recommended having a mechanic put a cage around your converter, or installing a car alarm.

No arrests have been made in the thefts. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Steven Chase at 860-747-1616 ext. 283.