Thieves target school buses meant for students with disabilities in New Mexico

National News

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KQRE) – Dozens of Rio Rancho students no longer have a way to get to school. The school district says thieves stole valuable safety equipment from their buses with wheelchair lifts.

“We’re obviously quite upset about it,” said Michael Baker, the Chief Operations Officer with Rio Rancho Public Schools.

Baker says the theft happened early Saturday morning. Surveillance video captures thieves cut a hole in an elementary school fence, then the fence to the transportation yard, before walking right over to the buses.

“They climbed underneath 10 of our school buses and cut the catalytic converter and exhaust filtration system from underneath,” said Baker.

All of the targeted buses have a wheelchair lift that 36 students rely on every day.

“Not just the damage to our physical property, but it’s also going to impact the education of our most vulnerable student population,” said Baker.

All of the damaged buses are now out of commission for at least a week.

“We were able to borrow three of these specially equipped buses from APS,” said Baker.

While that loan will help, many students will still need to find a way to get to school while the district spends at least $70,000 to get the buses fixed.

“There is an impact. It’s not just the cost impact,” said Baker.

Rio Rancho Police are now investigating the theft. RRPS is now upping security at its transportation yard.

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