Metro Detroit bus service for seniors targeted by thieves

More than 50 Pace Southeast Michigan’s buses had their catalytic converters sawed off; other companies reporting incidents

Metro Detroit bus service for seniors targeted by thieves

DETROIT – Pace Southeast Michigan uses its buses to get seniors to medical appointments.

But over the last month, at three of its locations, catalytic converters have been sawed off on more than 50 buses.

“That could be life threatening because if somebody doesn’t get to dialysis, and now you’re talking Monday, they haven’t been since Friday,” said Jeff Burmeister with Pace Southeast Michigan.

READ: As she fights cancer, Warren woman’s family hit by auto theft for the fourth time

At Royal Transportation Co., Don Fitzsimmons, fleet has basically been idled by COVID-19. Thieves hit 10 of Fitzsimmons’ buses in the parking lot, and after he moved them inside, they cut a hole in a garage door to get 25 more.

“In the last three months, approximately $80,000 of loss and damage,” he said.

During one of the thefts, Fitzsimmons came face to face with a thief who threatened him with a sawzall.

“I told him, I see you. We’re going to get you now,’” he said.

Santoro Inc. on Detroit’s east side, which fixes buses for both Pace and Royal, was also hit. Dewey Santoro said he has seen more catalytic converter thefts today than he’s seen since the late 1980s.

“It’s usually on a Monday morning we get the call that a company calls in and says ‘We’ve go converters missing,’” Santoro said.

“This is becoming more widespread,” Fitzsimmons said.

If you have any information contact Detroit police at 313-596-5540 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-Speak Up. All tips to Crime Stoppers are anonymous. Click here to submit a tip online.

More: Metro Detroit crime news

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.