Two Stolen School Buses from Alachua County Found Near Jacksonville
Published November 19th, 2013
GAINESVILLE -- After missing for more than two months, a pair of stolen school buses belonging to the Alachua County School District was found near Jacksonville over the weekend.
Both buses were stolen from a locked bus lot in Hawthorne back in September after authorities say thieves cut a hole in the surrounding gate before hotwiring the buses and driving away.
While school district officials are still awaiting the return of one of the buses, the other is already back at the county's Gainesville compound. Officials describe the bus as being in good condition, with the most obvious change being the replacement of the school district's name with a company name reading "95 South Tours & Transportation."
According to their website, "95 South Tours" is a private bus shuttling company based out of Jacksonville. According to published reports, the owner of the company was arrested earlier this month after authorities found another stolen bus from Georgia on his company's lot.
Its not clear whether the owner of "95 Tours" will face any additional charges for the theft of the two Alachua County buses.
Two other stolen buses marked with the same company name were found in Alachua County last week. Those buses were believed to be stolen from Jacksonville, and have since been returned.
In addition to the name change on the outside of the bus, officials say the VIN number was also altered to make the bus appear older than it actually is. There were also modifications to both the front and back bumpers of the bus, also done in order to make the bus look like an older model.
Despite the alterations, the school district says both buses will undergo routine maintenance inspections, and should be back out on the road in a matter of weeks if everything checks out.
To prevent any more bus thefts from occurring, Alachua County School District officials say they've since installed multiple surveillance cameras at all five of their bus lots.
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