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Author Topic: Bus theft and recovery  (Read 1059 times)
daveola
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« on: November 08, 2017, 12:52:48 PM »

Someone stole our Big Red Bus.

Before you need to read further, the bus has been recovered.

This is the THIRD time we have been burglarized in three different cities over the last couple years.

I am tired of it and it hurts.

This time, though, the ending is not as painful as the time they cleared out our bus home and the time that they stole my vintage car that I spent years rebuilding.

Here's the story in brief:

We had the bus parked on a street that it's stayed at, off and on, for many years.

On Sunday we go to move it, and it's gone. We call 911 and report it stolen, and they say they'll have a cop out eventually to take the report.

We've done this before and know how well that's going to go.

I know the neighborhood really well. I guess that they aren't about to drive the bus to another state, but they've moved it to take what they can get. We start driving to all the empty streets I know nearby.

And sure enough, we head over to one of the industrial dead ends and see the shape of a huge bus. I tell my wife to drive past it and park while I call the police. I notice that a light is on inside.

They tell us they'll have a cop out, eventually.

I casually walk along the street past the bus to see if I can notice if anyone is moving inside.

Amazingly, someone is sitting in the driver's seat, though I can barely see them in the darkness.

I call 911 again and beg them to come out now. The operator argues with me and actually calls me a liar at one point. For real. I could rant about that in another post.

While I'm on the phone about 50 feet behind the bus, the taillights come on. He's turned the bus on. I beg, again, that the 911 operator get some police there now. I jog straight up behind it so he can't see me in the mirrors, and as I get closer he starts the bus engine. I open the back doors to the engine compartment and reach in between the running fan belt and push the air solenoid that cuts off fuel delivery to the engine, and the engine sputters to a stop as he is trying to get away.

I search in the darkness for the service panel to find the maintenance switch that puts starting control in the back of the bus. He starts the bus again, and I reach in and kill the engine. This happens one more time before I finally manage to find the maintenance switch, and now the engine won't start.

I quickly back away from the bus out of sight of the mirrors in case he comes back to see why the bus won't start or in case he decides to run for it. I want the bus back, but I'm not going to confront this guy directly if I don't have to.

I get further back and get back on the phone with the 911 operator. She's not helpful.

Amazingly, the thief doesn't realize what's happened, and he stays in the bus. For a while. Which is good, because it takes the police a few minutes still to show up, but they finally do, with guns drawn and arrest the piece of garbage.

We finally get to go inside the bus and it's a disaster. Fortunately we found it while they were sorting through the "loot" and before they'd pulled much out, but there was damage inside and outside the bus - they'd evidently hit something while driving, and they ripped a bunch of the reflectors off the side, either because they like shiny things or somehow thought this would make the bus "incognito". They were not the smartest of thieves.

I say "they" because there were more of them - a witness saw at least one leave the other sitting in the bus before as he stole one of my scooters - and when we got inside they had left a bunch of their belongings inside our bus.

A bunch of things that we are going to enjoy setting fire to.

*sigh*

At some point I'll figure out how to keep the animals away, but I haven't figured it out yet.

In the end, we have the bus back, and all of the blood, sweat and tears that went into it are mostly recovered. We spent all day yesterday repairing, and will have plenty more work to do.  The bus is safe now.

You can watch a very shaky-cam video of the arrest if you are on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/daveola/videos/10155142702927339/

And now to call some of those people about reflectors and some of the other parts we need.
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daveola
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 12:54:31 PM »

Incidentally - not looking for advice here on where to park or how to avoid this in the future.

The bus is safe now, and we're looking at putting together a cellular locator and video system like lojack (but a little more powerful) to keep this from happening.  We also usually cutoff the battery with the master switch, but didn't this time because we were going to be moving it soon.

I'm really surprised that someone actually figured out how to start it, but now that we've gone inside and seen the damage they did to the dashboard I can see that they struggled with it for a while.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 01:00:23 PM by daveola » Logged
neoneddy
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 01:30:00 PM »

I'm not sure if my bus is special or not, but does your need to have the Steps and Chimes switch on to start it?   Could also have  that be a dummy switch and wire in a secondary somewhere else if that's the case.

Way to go on the fooling those thieves.   

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First time bus owner, long time bus lover  - 1982 MCI MC9 6V92 - Current Status - Livable, still 20-30% more to go.  Video Build Log
daveola
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2017, 01:58:04 PM »

Well, they were starting to pull the dash apart anyways, so a separate switch that is needed would probably just mean more destruction.

We're going to take an old cell phone, activate it on one of the super low cost monthly plans and then have it setup to do location sharing.  On top of that I might setup the data tethering and then allow it to share a webcam when it moves.  More project time, and just to keep people from destroying something I've built.  Sad.
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neoneddy
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 02:02:37 PM »

Protip: if you're looking to get a  data only plan.   You generally  you have to do it in store, but you can often times get a family line added as a hearing impaired / data only  line for close to 1/2 price.  https://www.tmonews.com/2016/03/t-mobile-quietly-introduces-data-only-wireless-plans-without-voice-call-inclusions/ 

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First time bus owner, long time bus lover  - 1982 MCI MC9 6V92 - Current Status - Livable, still 20-30% more to go.  Video Build Log
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2017, 03:09:01 PM »

Sorry to hear Dave.

Something like this would work and only cost $5/ month. It has geofencing so it can alert if it moves at all. Buy a used Gizmo on eBay for about 30 bucks. You're all set.

My dog is my kid. Can locate if gets lost as well as call her. lol

https://www.verizonwireless.com/connected-devices/lg-gizmopal-2/

One other thing about 911. All those calls dispatch via CHP. Get the SFPD dispatch number directly and call that for faster service , maybe
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 03:11:18 PM by windtrader » Logged

Don F
1976 MCI/TMC MC-8 #1286
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2017, 06:22:36 PM »

You do have a lock on the door, right?
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Scott & Heather
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2017, 11:17:53 AM »

Dude you have absolutely THE WORST luck with the bus gods. You're more a man than I. I would have thrown the towel in and bought an airstream by now.


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Scott & Heather
1984 MCI 9 6V92-turbo with 9 inch roof raise (SOLD)
1992 MCI 102C3 8v92-turbo with 8 inch roof raise CURRENT HOME
Click link for 900 photos of our 1st bus conversion:
https://goo.gl/photos/GVtNRniG2RBXPuXW9
daveola
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2017, 11:48:32 AM »

You do have a lock on the door, right?


Yes, though they disassembled it after getting inside, it looks like they were trying to replace it with their own lock, which is insane, as if putting their own lock on the bus would make it theirs.

The door lock is here:

http://bus.getdave.com/Album/Interior/Keypad-Door-Lock/

They got in by breaking the same door window that was broken in New Orleans.

I've replaced it with polycarbonate, which is much stronger, but I'm worried that they'll just break a windshield if this ever happens again.  Wish I could replace that with 1/2" thick plastic, that would be amazing.  Smiley
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daveola
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2017, 11:51:12 AM »

Dude you have absolutely THE WORST luck with the bus gods. You're more a man than I. I would have thrown the towel in and bought an airstream by now.

I think sometimes everything just piles up on us and this just makes us stronger.

I don't think I would have made it through if stuff like this happened in the beginning, but each time we just learn to deal with it, make things better, and move on.

Are you ready for bad luck though?

I actually got hit by a car last night, and now I'm recovering at home.

Maybe someone is actually out to get me..  Smiley

Or maybe I should just stay inside for a while.
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Scott & Heather
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2017, 12:14:36 PM »

Dave...no offense, but I'm going to stay outside a 500 mile radius of you....especially during a thunderstorm lol.


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Scott & Heather
1984 MCI 9 6V92-turbo with 9 inch roof raise (SOLD)
1992 MCI 102C3 8v92-turbo with 8 inch roof raise CURRENT HOME
Click link for 900 photos of our 1st bus conversion:
https://goo.gl/photos/GVtNRniG2RBXPuXW9
Dreadnought
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2017, 12:20:14 PM »

What a bunch of scum bags! My condolensces

In the UK, crime has gotten so bad and we're so used to the police not doing anything about in. in parts of Ireland (northern mainly)- punishment gangs evolved to issue vigilante justice as Police were too busy doing paperwork, feeling important and issueing speeding offenses.
I suppose we're not about to group together to do anything or issue any kind of justice with our walking sticks and zimmer frames :-D
Is big red a manual trans or an automatic. I have a loose/vague theory that manuals are their own anti theft devices. Where abouts are you located?
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1964 MCI MC5 8v71
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2017, 09:34:52 PM »

I think sometimes everything just piles up on us and this just makes us stronger.

I don't think I would have made it through if stuff like this happened in the beginning, but each time we just learn to deal with it, make things better, and move on.

Are you ready for bad luck though?

I actually got hit by a car last night, and now I'm recovering at home.

Maybe someone is actually out to get me..  Smiley

Or maybe I should just stay inside for a while.


There is a current song that has the phrase "Everything that kills me makes me feel alive", just like you felt when you sneaked up on the bus and shut it off while the miscreant was up front. I would say you are fully alive and lucky.  Wink
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Walter
Dayton, Ohio
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« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2017, 05:50:28 AM »

That's one hell of a story.  I'm sorry you had to go through the grief to get to tell the story but its still one hell of a good story.  We live in a little tiny village in the middle of nowhere and one of the big advantages is that our village is too small to attract most crooks.  The joke here is that when crime does happen and the cops ask for a description of the thief people say "It was Bill". 
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
Used to be 1981 Prevost 8-92, 10 spd
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2017, 06:32:35 AM »

I'm not sure if my bus is special or not, but does your need to have the Steps and Chimes switch on to start it?   Could also have  that be a dummy switch and wire in a secondary somewhere else if that's the case.

Way to go on the fooling those thieves.   

That is a sure sign it used to belong to Greyhound!
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daveola
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« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2017, 01:37:54 PM »

Haven't been hit by lightning yet.

Perhaps that is surprising.  Smiley

To answer questions, the bus is automatic (I would have preferred a manual) and it's in the Bay Area, around SF.
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Dreadnought
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« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2017, 02:08:39 PM »

My MC5 was originally a SF bus, I'm glad I saved it from there. It sounds like that place is more and more like Europe- extorsionate housing prices, no space, high taxes, and higher crime... Embarrassed
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