When school board employees showed up to Alachua County’s school bus park on September eighth, they noticed that two of their 225 buses were gone. Spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said although the theft of two $60,000 buses is perplexing, she found the overall trend of missing school buses to be more disturbing.
“I cannot recall in the years that I’ve been working in this district that we’ve ever had a bus stolen. But, what we understand from law enforcement is this has become a current trend in districts here in Florida and in Georgia. They are seeing the theft of school buses,” Johnson remarked.
Alachua County Sherriff’s Office spokesman Todd Kelly agrees, he added his department believes the rash of bus thefts around the state could be connected.
“One would think that it’s probably part of a larger scale operation. Whether or not these are independent thieves that are all working together as part of a larger group – that’s – that would make sense,” Kelly said.
Kelly says because they haven’t recovered any of the recently missing buses, it’s possible a larger criminal enterprise could be selling buses or bus parts to overseas buyers. In the meantime Alachua County Public Schools say they’ll be installing new security measures at all of their bus parks. Johnson says the county doesn’t foresee the theft affecting routes or schedules because there are other buses to pick up the slack. But officials are worried they’ll have to shell out about $90,000 apiece for two new buses.