Theft of Flagler Co. school buses goes unnoticed

Updated:

Loading

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - Two All American school buses were stolen from a bus garage parking lot in July, but officials only noticed on Monday that they were gone, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

The buses were equipped with GPS monitors that had been disabled on July 27, deputies said.

Security video shows a person cutting the lock to a gate on Bulldog Drive, and then driving into the compound in a white Chevrolet Impala.

School officials say the thieves were somehow able to open the gate in such a way that it was not detected the next day.

Investigators said thieves were able to open a box containing the GPS monitors and cut the wires.

"By looking back through the video after we were sure the buses weren't somewhere else getting mechanical or painted, we looked back at video and found where they were taken a week ago Saturday," said Mike Judd of Flagler County Schools.

The buses are then seen leaving the compound a short time later.

School officials said that the GPS monitors are concealed inside the buses and are used to track buses when children are on them. Someone would have to know what they were looking for to disable them.

"The last GPS signal we get is just right in the moments when they were stolen," Judd said.

The large lot filled with buses is not inventoried every day so thieves were long gone before the discovery was made.

The security video has not been released yet.

School officials say the buses were worth about $60,000 each, but are fully insured.

The suspicion is that they may have already been taken out of the country – central Florida school districts sell used buses to other countries -- so there is a market for American school buses outside the U.S.

"Certainly. Since the buses we sell end up in other countries, it would certainly be possible that these buses could have gone to another country," Judd said.

The two stolen buses could have been hauled very far away before the theft was even noticed more than a week after it happened.

Officials are still looking into how that happened.