Metrophile Darius McCollum, who loves borrowing mass transit vehicles about as much as some people love Jeremy Lin, will go on trial next week for stealing a NJ Trailways bus in August 2010. McCollum, who has been arrested 27 times for similar offenses, is facing up to 15 years in prison for grand larceny—but his lawyer will argue that McCollum's obsession with mass transit vehicles is fueled by mental illness, and not greed: “He’s never, ever tried to benefit personally from the theft of a vehicle,” Stephen Jackson said after a hearing in Queens Supreme Court. “This is a glorified unauthorized use of a vehicle case, a misdemeanor.”
Jackson wants a psychiatrist to testify about McCollum's obsession, which he says is because of Asperger’s, a form of autism. “His mental health history will show he doesn’t do this intentionally,” Jackson said. McCollum has previously claimed in interviews that he's stolen over 150 buses over the last decade, but not for any malicious reasons: "That's why I love the city so much— so many trains, so many buses. I don't know what to do with myself."
During August 2010 incident, cops say McCollum slipped aboard the empty Trailways bus in a Hoboken, NJ maintenance facility, found a key in the ignition, and headed east in rush-hour traffic. He was wearing a wanna-be driver's uniform of black pants, blue button-down shirt and brown shoes, and carrying a Koran and manuals from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. According to police, he gave up with no resistance when he was caught, and "acted like a gentleman."
The Daily News has described him as "more like a bookish engineer than an obsessed felon," and commend his passionate interest in mass transit vehicles, even as they admit it is incredibly unlikely that McCollum would ever be given a job from the MTA or the law enforcement, as he would love to: "The perfect job for me would be counterterrorism. I could teach them how to stop stuff like this from happening."