CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Bus riders looking to catch a ride with JAUNT woke up to a shock in Nelson County on Tuesday morning.

Three buses were hit by vandals who stole catalytic converters, which meant those vehicles couldn't be used. 

 "This activity really greatly impacted the commuters who use the Lovingston Connection to get to work every day,” said JAUNT spokesperson Jody Saunders.

Catalytic converter thefts are now considered a felony in Virginia. 

A catalytic converter is responsible for reducing harmful air pollutants, and it's illegal to drive without one.

"We had to scramble to figure out how to serve the rest of the community,” Saunders said.

Luckily, she says commuters were able to carpool amongst themselves, but it wasn't an easy fix.

"Kind of too bad that this was how hard we started our day,” Jody explained.

Each catalytic converter costs about $1,600, but it's not just the price tag JAUNT is worried about. It's the time.

"About $4,500 to $5,000 to get those replaced and then of course you know supply chain issues are real and they were already impacting our ability to keep up on maintenance. So this is painful,” said Saunders.

JAUNT is working with the Nelson County Sheriff's Office to find the thieves. Anyone with information is asked to call (877) 570-8477

In the meantime, JAUNT is looking for other potential parking areas that may help deter future thieves. 

Catalytic converters are frequently stolen because of the precious metals found inside, including gold, platinum and rhodium.

Rhodium is the most precious metal, with a current price of roughly $14,000 an ounce.