Thieves pump diesel from school bus, steal chains

March 7, 2012

Fuel and chains were stolen from a Hood River County School District bus overnight Feb. 28.

Transportation Department employees reported the loss of $750 in diesel and chains. A total of 85 gallons was drained from the fuel tank, apparently by a pumping system, according to mechanic Don Benefield.

The bus had an electrical failure while being driven on Highway 35 at about 9 p.m. Wednesday and transportation supervisor Cindy Sim said she instructed the driver to leave the bus there.

"We went up this morning to recover it and found it had been gone through," Benefield said.

"It's not so much the loss as the burden," Benefield said. "With the fuel drained, you've got to prime the system again. The bus can't run when it's been drained."

Benefield said he had to do so at the scene, and then was able to drive it back to the transportation facility in Odell. He said the fuel had been either siphoned or pumped from the tank aboard the 40-passenger bus.

"That's what's exasperating to me, is I don't know how they would have done it without a pump or drum tanks on the back of a truck," he said.

Benefield has been with the district for a year, but he said he asked long-term mechanics and they had no recollection of anyone siphoning gas from a school bus.

The bus holds 90 gallons of fuel, and had only been driven 30 miles since filling, according to Benefield.

Det. Matt English of the Hood River County Sheriff's Department said the case is under investigation.

The bright side of the crime might be that the hatch holding the tire chains was unlocked, according to Sim.

"I did not instruct the driver to lock the hatch, which is probably a good thing because they would have messed up the lock and caused even worse damage. It's a 'Catch 22' kind of thing," Sim said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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