Ah, the saga of urban mining continues in the USA.
This time, we're kicking it up a few notches in the tonnage department
by "recycling" school buses.
And why not - since your kids don't learn anything of value in your
school system any more - because you're too busy making sure they don't
"chew pastry into shapes resembling guns", or point their fingers at
fellow students and say "bang".
The journey down the toilet takes many twists and turns...
8 school buses stolen, shredded into 'big pile of scrap'
By Peter Nickeas. Carlos Sadovi and Rachael Levy Tribune reporters
9:09 p.m. CST, March 8, 2013
Remnants of crumpled school buses are piled amid a heap of scrap metal
at SRV Metal Scrapper, Friday, March 8, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois.
Buses were reported missing by Sunrise Transportation Thursday night.
(John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune)
Eight school buses were stolen from the Far South Side overnight and
driven to a salvage yard, where they were cut apart and shredded into a
two-story pile of scrap, police said.
The name of the Sunrise bus company could be seen among the shards of
metal at SRV Metal Scrapper, 3405 S. Lawndale Avenue, police said. Four
people were taken into custody, including the owner of the company.
The 40-foot-long buses, capable of seating 75 people, were stolen
sometime overnight from the bus company's yard in the 10000 block of
South Torrence Avenue and were not discovered missing until this
morning, police said.
The buses were all equipped with GPS tracking devices, and police were
able to track "their entire movement" to the scrap yard on the West
Side, police said.
When officers arrived, several people who apparently worked in the scrap
yard ran into a building, police said. Officers initially apprehended
one person and later took two others into custody. The owner was
arrested in the afternoon.
"There was a pile of shredded school buses about two-stories high," one
police official said. Some pieces were large enough that police could
see the "Sunrise bus logo," the official said.
Engines and transmissions from the buses had already been cut in half,
and the seats tossed in a "big pile of scrap."
Eugene Roy, commander of the police Central Investigations Unit, said
the metal will be impounded as evidence. It was unusual to see such a
large-scale theft, he said.
An employee said the bus yard had been closed around 7 p.m. Thursday.
When workers arrived at 5 a.m. today, they discovered a gate open and a
snapped lock. Police arrived at the scrap yard around 6 a.m.
Greg Bonnett, president and co-owner of Sunrise, said he was awakened
this morning with a call from a worker that the buses had been stolen.
When the GPS signals were tracked down to the West Side, Bonnett said he
expected to find 8 buses parked there. "We expected to come in and see
our buses, not a mound of scrap.
"In 40 years I have never heard of anything like this," said Bonnett,
Bonnett estimated his loss at a quarter of a million dollars. Four of
the buses were equipped for special education students, including
wheelchair lifts, he said. Four 2009 models, three were 2004 and one was
As scrap, the buses would have been worth anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500
"I don't know why they would do it," said Joe Pickard, chief economist
for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in Washington, D.C. "It
seems like a lot of effort for not a big return. What would motivate an
individual, (they're) school buses."
Scrap prices for iron and steel are relatively low right now. They bring
about 18 cents per pound compared to about $3.50 per pound for copper
and about 90 cents per pound for aluminum, Pickard said.
Even with the buses weighing 17,000 to 20,000 pounds, much of that would
be from wiring, foam, rubber and materials from the seats, Pickard said.
But Gary Bush, who was a police officer for 32 years before he began
keeping track of thefts for the institute, said thieves will take
whatever they can. "Anything that can be stolen, has been stolen," he
said. "Literally anything of any value is a potential target."
Sunrise has about 260 buses, and the company was able to get buses to
its schools. "No Sunrise kids missed school," Bonnett said. "Equipment
is equipment. It's easy to replace."