MIAMI (CBS4) – Nearly three dozen Miami-Dade County public school buses were broken into while parked over the long holiday weekend.
According to Miami-Dade School Police spokesperson Sgt. Ivan Silva, someone gained entrance to the Miami-Dade schools bus depot lot, located at 7011 SW 4th Street, and stole the batteries out of nearly three dozen buses. Many of the buses that were broken into are used to transport children with special needs, according to bus driver Ricardo Valdes.
Most of the buses use at least batteries that are secured together in a side compartment of a bus.
“They stole batteries so many drivers could not do their routes,” Valdes told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “It’s pretty desperate that people do something like this. It must have been an inside job. That’s really sad because those criminals are not just hurting the county, they are hurting children who need the transportation.
Valdes said more than 90 batteries out of 32 buses were stolen.
“I don’t know why they would do this,” said concerned parent Ally Becerra. “These poor kids didn’t do anything. I mean, come on, a school bus. I’ve heard of vending machines at schools being vandalized. But never school buses like this with batteries.”
A School Board spokesman told D’Oench that the bus yard was locked up during the weekend.
The thefts took place over the weekend but weren’t discovered until Tuesday morning, according to Sgt. Silva.
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Schools police alerted parents to the thefts and handed out flier asking anyone with information to call them. The flyers had a special plea to the public in English, Spanish and Creole
They are also going over surveillance video in hopes that it will help them in their investigation.
“It’s sad taking batteries from the vehicles of kids,” said parent Viurniel Sanchez. “It’s a bad situation for everybody, it’s a lose-lose situation.”
The school district police said they can’t recall having a crime like this in the recent past. Currently they have no suspects and point out the bus yard fence was locked up over the weekend.
“It’s shocking. And it’s a sad thing,” Sanchez said. “Taking batteries from vehicles that. It’s really despicable to do this. This must have been an inside job. The reason this happened is because there’s no security.”
Valdes agrees saying, “The reason this happened is because of a lack of security here at the yard. Now I feel insecure when I come here if they can’t protect the buses.”
Miami-Dade school officials said they were able to cover most of the routes on Tuesday and should have all 32 buses up and running on Wednesday.
Some of the affected students go to South Miami Senior High School. Parents at that school told D’Oench that this crime upset them.
Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call Miami-Dade Schools Police at (305) 995-2677.