Theft at NEXT causes transportation setbacks

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 5, 2023

 Since the catalytic converters were stolen from NEXT buses, their transportation services have been limited.

Since the catalytic converters were stolen from NEXT buses, their transportation services have been limited.


BIRMINGHAM — The catalytic converters were stolen from all three of the city’s senior service buses while they were parked behind the YMCA building overnight Nov. 15. Since the thefts, these vehicles, which are essential to NEXT’s transportation services, have been inoperable.

NEXT serves the 50-plus communities of Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin. Their buses are regularly used to transport passengers to critical appointments. Without their buses, NEXT has had to cancel transportation to important appointments, which riders typically rely on them for, according to the city.

They do have access to an outdated loaner that will help short-term, but their services have been limited by reduced capacity.

“We are running at about 30% capacity right now,” NEXT Executive Director Cris Braun said. “So we’ve had to cancel most appointments that you would probably consider nonessential, but they’re not nonessential to the client.”

During this time, NEXT has had to prioritize essential medical appointments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, over other rides they typically offer, such as to the grocery store or to church.

“We are hustling all day long trying to make these appointments work, but sometimes we just don’t have the capacity,” Braun said.

Catalytic converters are very expensive to replace, each costing thousands of dollars. Braun said this unexpected expense that has come at the end of the year is a challenge for NEXT.

This theft happened in the dark, and there were no cameras.

“We do have an open investigation into the theft of these catalytic converters that were stolen,” Birmingham Police Chief Scott Grewe said via email. “The case has been assigned to our officer that is assigned out to the multi-jurisdictional task force, Special Investigations Unit (SIU) as several agencies have experienced the same type of incidents and are working jointly to investigate these crimes.”

While Braun said they are hoping they will repair the buses in the next few weeks, there are several procedures they have to go through, including with their insurance and the investigation, making it unclear when exactly their transportation will fully return.

NEXT is located at 2121 Midvale St. in Birmingham and can be contacted at (248) 203-5270. More information and updates on NEXT can be found at