Police are searching for half a dozen teenagers who allegedly commandeered an MTA bus outside a mall in the Bronx last week, then took it on an hours-long journey through Brooklyn and Queens. The crew, who managed to return the bus before anyone noticed it was gone, may have also been involved in another bus-borrowing incident earlier in the day, police said.
Surveillance footage shows six people—four male, two female, all described as “late teens”—boarding an unoccupied MTA bus outside The Crossings mall on Hunts Point Avenue at around 8 p.m last Sunday. They allegedly took the vehicle on a four-hour cross-borough joyride, before dropping it off at Westchester and Prospect avenues in the Bronx, just a few blocks from where it was initially snagged.
The NYPD was not informed that the bus had gone missing until the following afternoon, when an MTA supervisor reported the incident, police said.
Members of the party bus are also believed to have absconded with a different bus from a Brooklyn depot earlier in the day. According to police, a trio of teenagers snagged a bus at Williams Place and Herkimer Street in Bed-Stuy just after midnight on Sunday. They dropped this one off a few hours later about a mile down Atlantic Avenue. “We believe the same kids are involved in some or both incidents,” a spokesperson for the NYPD told Gothamist.
Neither vehicle suffered any damage as a result of the joyrides.
As an unnamed bus driver explained to the Post last week, pirating MTA buses is a fairly straightforward process, since they don’t require a key or a fob (and are often left unlocked and unattended, apparently). The laxity was long taken advantage of by transit enthusiast Darius McCollum, who is believed to have stolen over 150 city buses since 2000. In October, McCollum, who is autistic, was ordered to a psychiatric facility after a judge determined he had a “dangerous mental disorder.”
Despite the ease in which it can be done, the unnamed driver notes that not everyone has what it takes to steal a bus in this town: “You’ve got to have some balls to steal a big-ass bus and drive it all the way the fuck to Queens,” he explained. “You have a lot of people who have a fantasy about driving a city bus, and when you leave a bus out there in the open with no one inside, you’re at risk of someone stealing it.”
A spokesperson for the MTA did not respond to a request for comment.