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by Julie R. Cryser
The Harrison County Sheriff's Department found something Thursday night that was much bigger than a breadbox -- and had been missing for most of the day.
A Harrison County school bus was stolen sometime between 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 5:30 a.m. Thursday, according to Victor Gabriel, administrative assistant in charge of support services for the county school system.
Sometime during the night, either a person or people entered the bus parking area at South Harrison High School and drove off with bus No. 166.
Sheriff's department personnel had recovered the bus by 9 p.m. Thursday.
South Harrison High School has a security guard who lives on campus, but the guard was out of town for the night, Gabriel said.
The bus area is not gated and the keys to the bus were hidden near or on the bus so that substitutes could get to them, Gabriel said, a usual practice.
That practice will likely be ended, however, according to Harrison County Superintendent Robert Kittle.
"If somebody wants one, those doors don't lock, but I don't want to make it convenient for burglary," said Kittle, who was unaware that keys are sometimes hidden on or near buses.
Kittle said he could understand the practice, considering substitutes need the keys to various buses. But he said the practice will probably have to be changed.
"We will have to take precautions, but it may have to come to where we have to put a fence around it," Kittle said.
The 3-year-old bus suffered slight damage, according to police officials. The bus is valued at about $40,000, Gabriel said.
Anyone with information should contact the Harrison County Sheriff's Department at 623-6655 or the Harrison County Board of Education at 624-3300.