Deputies on Friday continue to search for two Orange County school buses that were stolen from a bus compound.
Kathy Marsh of Orange County Schools said the bus drivers parked the vehicles in their designated spots at the Orange County Public Schools Transportation Services east facility, located in the 6700 block of Hanging Moss Road in Orlando, after their shift ended on Wednesday.
The buses are equipped with GPS units, and records show the buses were later driven away at 4:59 p.m. and 5:07 p.m. Wednesday. They were not discovered missing until Thursday morning during a routine yard check, officials said.
The buses were described as regular yellow school buses, and the GPS systems record when the buses are started, how fast they go and where they are located. The GPS system runs on radio frequency and only tracks buses in or near Orange County.
The GPS provider, "Everyday Solutions," is working with authorities to try to track the buses.
According to the GPS tracking devices, the buses entered State Road 417 and the last pings were recorded in Deltona and Orange City in Volusia County, about 30 miles from Orlando.
[PHOTOS: School buses stolen]
There are surveillance cameras at the compound near the main office, but they didn't spot the thieves driving away. There are also cameras inside the school bus, but the video remains on the bus and is not sent back electronically to OCPS so there is no way to access the video.
Officials said it's not uncommon for school buses to be entering and leaving the facility at all hours of the day because of night classes and extracurricular uses. OCPS runs 907 buses a day in Orange County, officials said.
According to Jim Beekman, senior director of transportation for OCPS, it's likely whoever stole the buses knew what they were doing in order to jumpstart the buses. He said the buses have rear engines and it is difficult to start without a key, but someone with mechanical knowledge would know how to start those types of engines.
Orange County Sheriff's Office described the buses as:
- Bus 1: 2007 Yellow International Bus # 27192 and bearing Fla. Tag#-238245 VIN: 4DRBWAAN87A323073
- Bus 2: 2005 Yellow International Bus # 25119 and bearing Fla. Tag# 219587 VIN: 4DRBWAAR65A978204Th
The 2005 model bus is valued at $18,941 and the 2007 model is worth $33,714, according to officials.
Anyone with information is urged to call police. OCPS is working with Volusia and Orange county deputies to find the buses.
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