Kingsland police wonder how, why 3 school buses were stolen

Several Georgia agencies join investigation of thefts from bus yard

CAMDEN COUNTY, Fla. – Several questions are perplexing investigators about the theft of three school buses in Camden County.

How do thieves steal three school buses? How do they hide them? And what are they going to do with them?

When school officials returned this week after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, they found three buses missing from the Camden County Schools bus yard.

Officials said they went immediately to a security camera to find out what happened. Surveillance video shows one of the buses being driven off the lot last Friday. Investigators did not want to release the video because they said there are some clues on it that they don't want the public to see.

"A car drives in and then drives back out with three busses," said Mark Stewart, of Camden County Schools. "So, undoubtedly, they brought three people with them."

Investigators believe the thieves hotwired the buses. They're just trying to figure out why.

"We have a couple of theories and motives," said Richard Sapp, of the Kingsland Police Department. "We believe they may be scrapping them for metal and get the money for them or ship them overseas."

School officials said they have another theory about what the crooks have in mind.

"When we auction off buses in the summer, we know some get sold for scrap, but some also get sold and transported to South America or overseas where they use them," Stewart said. "Unfortunately, these were very good buses and not ones we would typically auction."

The buses were insured, so replacing them is not the problem.

It's difficult to hide a yellow school bus. There was one report that they were seen Friday night on Interstate 95 heading south near Fernandina Beach. But that's where the clues stop.

Police are getting some help from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.

"We are really not sure what the motive could be for using these school busses," Sapp said of why Homeland Security is involved. "We are hoping it's just to use it for scrap metal and get the money out of it. We are just not sure, and we want to be on the safe side."

Camden County school officials said they have not had this happen before, although they said it has happened in neighboring counties.