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14-year-old admits to taking empty school bus for ride

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A St. Paul boy admitted in court to hopping on an unoccupied school bus and taking it for a ride last month, the Pioneer Press reports.

The 14-year-old, who has not been identified, pleaded guilty to motor vehicle theft and criminal damage to property, the paper says. He agreed to pay restitution.

Nobody was hurt in the Feb. 10 incident, but the Pioneer Press says the school bus and some gas station pumps were damaged.

The teenager found the empty Centerline Charter bus parked at a Holiday station, near the intersection of Rice Street and Wheelock Parkway in St. Paul shortly before 8 a.m. that day. Police said the driver had left the keys in the ignition while she went inside the station to get coffee. So the boy – who later told police he thought the bus was abandoned, and was trying to return it – got in the vehicle and took off.

The driver contacted an operations manager, and the bus was tracked to an empty nearby bus lot via GPS, police said. But the teenager then brought it back out into traffic; police said the boy may have panicked after hearing about the bus theft over the radio scanner.

The teenager sped through a red light and a four-way stop, and weaved through morning traffic – before pulling into a Roseville Shell gas station a couple miles away, where the bus bumped into some gas pumps. The trip ended there.

Pioneer Press has surveillance video from that day.

When police arrived, the manager told them the boy was crying, and said he got scared. There was a possibility he could have been charged with felony vehicle theft, it was reported at the time.

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