A young transit bandit, believed to have been involved in multiple MTA bus-thefts in recent weeks, appears to have struck again.
Police say that the thief commandeered an empty city bus at around 3:20 a.m. last Tuesday in Jamaica, Queens. The suspect—thought to be in his late teens or early 20s—proceeded to "drive it to various locations in Queens and Brooklyn," police said, before eventually parking the bus in the vicinity of Conduit Boulevard and Liberty Avenue in Cyprus Hills.
The MTA reportedly learned of the January 15th incident about two hours after it happened, thanks to a GPS tracker on the vehicle.
Police believe the suspect may be one of the suspects accused of taking two other buses on illicit joyrides in December. In the first instance, surveillance footage showed six teenagers boarding an unoccupied MTA bus in the Bronx, then taking on a four hour inter-borough journey. It took a full day before anyone reported the missing bus, which was found in a parking lot a few blocks from where it was initially swiped. A separate MTA bus was grabbed off the streets and taken for a short cruise through Brooklyn earlier in the day.
A spokesperson for the NYPD told Gothamist on Monday that it's believed the same person was involved in all three incidents, but that they're still "connecting the dots." It doesn't appear that any of the three buses suffered any damages in the heists.
The city is no stranger to having its buses borrowed. Serial mass transit thief Darius McCollum was responsible for at least 30 such incidents, most recently pirating an unattended Greyhound bus outside the Port Authority in 2015. In October, McCollum, who is autistic, was ordered to a psychiatric facility after a judge determined he had a “dangerous mental disorder."
Other bus snatchers have gotten off much easier. Back in 1947, New York City bus driver and Bronx native William Cimillo "got tired of it all" and took an impromptu journey down to Florida in a stolen bus. He was arrested in Hollywood, but the charges were dropped after he gained folk hero status, and he was permitted to keep his job.
Stealing a city bus off city streets remains a fairly straightforward process, as most of the vehicles do not require a key or fob (and are also often left unlocked and unattended, apparently). In last week's incident, the driver was reportedly taking a meal break.
The investigation into the theft is ongoing, police said.