BELLEVILLE, Ill. — There is a damage assessment going on this morning in Belleville after thieves hit a school bus yard and stole multiple catalytic converters from school buses.

It all happened at the Belleville School District 201 bus yard on Mascoutah Avenue. The Belleville School District 201 Superintendent Brian Mentzer tells us 17 smaller buses were hit.

He says the thieves broke into the lot, likely overnight, by cutting through a back fence. Then the criminals cut the catalytic converters out from the bottom of the buses.

School officials didn’t know about the situation until they arrived this morning to start the buses to pick kids up for school. Mentzer says there were some minor delays in picking up students while different buses were put into service to run the routes that the impacted buses would normally do.

Mentzer says all the kids were able to get to school. We’re told the smaller buses that were hit serve special education and special needs students, and that the bigger buses, which run on diesel, don’t have catalytic converters.

Mentzer tells us school officials are working with Belleville Police on this case. There are surveillance cameras on the lot and those images are being reviewed to see if they can help in the investigation.

Mentzer tells us there are 220 buses on the lot and that they serve eight different districts. He also says that this kind of thing has happened a couple of other times since the lot opened in 2014, but never on this scale. So far, we know of no suspects.

We have reached out to Belleville police, but so far we have not heard back.