Authorities recovered a stolen Metro Transit bus and arrested the thief after a short joy ride on Interstate 494 throughout the Twin Cities suburbs late Wednesday.
The Metro Transit driver reported the bus stolen about 9:50 p.m. after returning from a scheduled break to find the vehicle missing, agency spokesman Howie Padilla said. The driver had parked the Route 75 bus at a store near the intersection of Marie Avenue and S. Robert Street in West St. Paul to make a procedural stop, he said.
That’s when a man took advantage of her absence, jumped in the empty driver’s seat and sped away.
Officers used GPS technology to locate the bus within minutes. The thief headed west on Interstate 494 but was quickly stopped by Metro Transit and airport police, along with State Patrol officers, just east of 24th Avenue near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The thief was detained within 10 minutes of the original call, Padilla said.
The 31-year-old man was arrested without incident and booked at the Hennepin County jail on probable cause theft. The Star Tribune does not typically identify suspects until they are formally charged.
No passengers were on the bus at the time of the theft and no one was injured, Padilla said.
Transit police will spearhead the investigation into how the man was able to commandeer the bus. It remains unclear whether the Metro Transit driver who left the vehicle unattended will face any punitive action.