Miami-Dade Transit Commissioners are up in arms after the brazen theft of a city transit bus by 18-year-old James Harris.
According to the Miami Herald, Harris befriended several transit employees, and managed to obtain a genuine bus driver’s uniform from them. On June 1st, wearing an employee’s hat low over his face and a pair of sunglasses, Harris was able to bypass security at a transit depot and steal a bus.
Harris, dressed in his smart-looking uniform, then spent the next few hours driving the bus down its actual route, picking up passengers along the way. He collected fares, drove the speed limit, and dropped passengers off at their stops.
“He’s a real transit freak,” said Derrick Gordon, assistant director for bus operations.
“… He’s totally dreaming at this point — he’s fantasizing he’s a bus operator,” Gordon said. “He wants to be one so bad.”
At the end of his “shift,” Harris returned the undamaged bus to the depot. Police have no indication that he kept any of the fares. Nor did any of his passengers complain.
The teen was later caught and charged with burglary and grand theft.
But the story doesn’t end there. It gets weird.
Two weeks after being released on bail, Harris used the same uniform to steal yet another city bus. The bus was taken from a different depot and then driven some thirty miles to Florida City.
It was unclear whether he picked up any fares during the second trip, but one passenger made it a real joyride: With the bus pulled to the side of the road, security cameras show Harris making out with an unidentified man.
After transit officials realized the bus was missing, they used GPS to track it down. When dispatchers contacted Harris, he pulled over and ran from the bus. Police have been unable to find him since.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time such an incident has occurred in Florida.
A couple of years ago in Orlando, a young boy stole a bus and then drove it along its route picking up passengers and collecting fares.
15-year-old Ritchie Davis took the LYNX public transit service bus from an auction site parking lot. Authorities noted that the bus was being driven at normal speeds, making all of its regular stops along the route. One of the passengers that the boy picked up became suspicious of his youthful appearance and called police.
“I drove that bus better than most of the LYNX drivers could,” the teen told a deputy after his arrest. “There isn’t a scratch on it. I know how to start it, drive it, lower it, raise it.”
In a remarkable coincidence, after arresting Davis, authorities discovered that he was already on probation for a similar bus theft. Earlier in the year, he had stolen a tour bus and driven passengers around without any incident.
Davis was charged with grand theft auto and driving without a licence.