The Oak Hill Police Department and Oak Hill School District officials remain on the lookout for a school-district bus which was apparently stolen in the early-morning hours of Monday, June 12, from the school-bus parking area on Western Avenue in Oak Hill.
Oak Hill Superintendent Mike McCoy stated the 1999 model International school bus was noticed missing between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on June 12 and had last been seen and accounted for on Friday, June 9. After taking the time and effort to make sure that a district bus driver or some other authorized person did not have the bus, he reported the bus as missing to the Oak Hill Police Department and it has remained missing. It is bus number 29.
The latest development, according to McCoy, is that he has learned from the police that the missing school bus was apparently captured on a surveillance camera being driven on Cozy Glen Road near the village between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. Monday, June 12. This means it's quite likely the actual theft occurred a very short time before this. McCoy also has learned from police there was a possible attempt to steal a dump truck parked on property off South Front Street in Oak Hill during this same period.
Oak Hill Police Department Sgt. Scott Hughes told The Telegram Thursday morning the police had verified the surveillance-video sighting on Cozy Glen Road, but said there have been no other verified sightings of the missing bus. Hughes said police have heard about other school buses being seen on the road since the theft, but noted that some school buses around the area are in use even though school is out of session for the summer.
Nonetheless, Hughes reports the department is continuing to follow up on some "leads and tips."
The missing school bus was parked with other school-district buses on the large lot just to the south of the Administration Building and adjacent to where the former high school building was located. The 1999 International was actually the oldest bus in the fleet and McCoy said it was used as a spare bus and was to have been used the same way during the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.
The buses were all parked together in an unsecured, open area and McCoy said the buses were not locked and keys were left in at least some of them, including the missing one. Consequently, the keys have now been removed from all the other parked buses.
McCoy says he knows of no past local incidents in which a school bus was stolen although he has dealt with bus vandalism in the past.
Asked for his thoughts about the bold and unconventional crime, McCoy speculated it was most likely one of two situations -- a "joy ride" or a theft for the purpose of selling valuable parts and metal. However, he also said he feels that the bus would have been found by now if it was a case of a joy ride.
While an entire school bus may be hard to sell, McCoy noted the motor parts have value on the market as does the metal. Also, the bus was equipped with a two-way radio and a video system, which McCoy indicated were also very valuable.