TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Police are searching for the people who cut catalytic converters out of seven Ken-Ton school district vehicles.

They said the incident happened sometime Wednesday night.

Town of Tonawanda police chief James Stauffiger said this is a problem across Western New York and there’s been a recent uptick in the town of Tonawanda.

He said several of these incidents have been reported over the past couple of weeks but seven vehicles at once is unusual.

Stauffiger said the seven maintenance vehicles were damaged in the parking lot of the Ken-Ton district buildings and grounds department.

“These incidents are happening during the evening hours when most people are asleep and it’s really hard to detect at this point in time but if they have cameras make sure their camera are activated and they’re recording so in the event that there is something that this happened to them or perhaps one their neighbors we can in fact reach out to them and see the video to help us solve these crimes,” he said.

He said police are reviewing video evidence in this particular case.

He also said in general some people taking these converters want to profit off the precious metals in them, highlighting the importance for scrap yards to be reputable.

“When they have someone that comes in with these types of metals or catalytic converters in general that they contact their police department and make proper identification of the people that are coming in to turn in the scrap.”

The chief said not only are the converters expensive to replace, the damage caused by cutting them out also adds to the high bill.

“Not to mention the fact that once a person goes in there it sounds like a monster truck and that’s when people recognize that something has happened to them. Quite alarming.”

A spokesperson for the school district says they have already started having the vehicles fixed.

Someone familiar with the case said the damage could be upwards of $10,000.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.