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TSC buses stolen, taken for joy rides through playgrounds, into the woods
Police are looking for those who rammed fences, plowed into the woods and rammed through playground equipment at Wea Ridge
Today’s edition is sponsored by the ongoing support of The Long Center for the Performing Arts, which, in conjunction with the city of Lafayettte, is bringing country singer Justin Moore to Loeb Stadium Friday, Sept. 2. Just added as the opening act: Levi Riggs. For details and tickets, click here and scroll through today’s Based in Lafayette reporting project.
Whoever hopped security fences and keys hidden in decommissioned six Tippecanoe School Corp. buses did a real number before Sunday morning on the Wea Ridge campus, ramming through fences, taking out elementary playground equipment and abandoning a couple in the woods behind the school.
Reports about vandalized playground equipment – basketball hoops slammed into the pavement, metal poles on swing sets obliterated and tire tracks dug into the sponge-like playground surface – between Wea Ridge Elementary and Wea Ridge Middle School came at 9:26 a.m. Sunday, Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Lt. Matthew Couch said in a Sunday evening release.
Deputies then discovered damage to buses and a bus corral the south side of the middle school, which is near the intersection of South 18th Street and County Road 430 South.
By the end of the day, police found two buses stuck in the mud just outside the corral, close to the Wea Ridge Middle School football field. Two others had been used to crash through fences and went into the woods behind the school, police said. At least one bus was used to run through playground equipment, police said.
In all, eight buses were damaged, police said.
Police did not say whether there were suspects or how many people they believe were involved.
Sunday night, tire tracks cut in several directions from the points where fence posts were twisted into the ground and long sections of chain link fencing was laid down. Several tracks followed a narrow entrance into the woods, where a TSC cross country course goes. Telephone pole-sized gate posts just beyond where the course heads into the woods were sheared off, with tire tracks veering back toward the schools.
Damaged buses, some with tree branches embedded in their grills, were lined up in the parking lot. TSC crews had cleaned up much of the damage, though stray bus parts were still tangled in fences Sunday evening.
“Somebody had themselves some fun,” Colin Fesler said as he walked his dog around the school campus Sunday evening. “Look at this place.”
TSC personnel spent much of Sunday repairing playground equipment to get the elementary as ready as it could be by the school day Monday, Sue Scott, a TSC spokeswoman, said.
Scott said the damage wouldn’t affect bus routes Monday. She said the buses the vandals damaged had been decommissioned and scheduled for trade-in.
Sheriff Bob Goldsmith said keys were hidden in the decommissioned buses and were parked behind a locked fence.
Goldsmith said Sunday that investigators were checking for available security footage from the incident.
Police said the investigation would continue. Police asked that if anyone had information about the incident to call the sheriff’s office at 765-423-9321 of the anonymous WeTip Hotline at 800-872-7463.
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Thanks to The Long Center for the Performing Arts for its support and sponsorship of today’s edition of Based in Lafayette. For details about upcoming shows, including Justin Moore at Loeb Stadium on Friday, Sept. 2, click here for tickets and more.
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