Two Buses Stolen From Alachua County School District Lot
Published September 10th, 2013
HAWTHORNE -- They're big, bright yellow and usually stick out like a sore thumb in traffic -- yet that didn't stop somebody from stealing two Alachua County Public School buses on Monday.
According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, bus numbers 2804 and 2703 were sitting in a maintenance lot near Hawthorne High School over the weekend. They say the burglars gained access to the lot sometime between Sunday night and early Monday morning, after using a pair of bolt cutters to break open the lot's gate.
Once inside, the thieves started the buses and drove away, even though they had no keys.
"It's believed that these buses are either being put on shipping containers and shipped to countries overseas, or they're being separated into parts and distributed on the black market," said Sgt. Todd Kelly of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office. Kelly says bus parts often sell at high prices in foreign countries.
While it's still not known how the thieves were able to start up the buses, Kelly says investigators believe they either had a master key or were able to hot-wire the ignition.
Back in July, two buses were also stolen from a public school lot in Flagler County, leading investigators in Alachua County to believe these two cases may be related.
In an effort to prevent another theft of this kind, school district officials say they will consider installing security cameras at all of their bus maintenance lots. They also say bus drivers are using two spare buses to temporarily replace the ones that were stolen, causing no impact on students. We're told the two buses that are missing were at least partially insured by the school district.
If you have any information that could help investigators find these school bus thieves, you're asked to call ASO at (352) 955-1818.
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