CHICAGO — The owner of a scrap company where the remains of several school buses were found after being stolen from the Far South Side of Chicago has been charged with illegal possession of auto titles, police said.
The name of the Sunrise bus company could be seen on shards of metal in the yard at SRV Metal Scrapper and Gonzalez Auto Parts & Dismantling, police said.
Initially, four people were taken into custody, including the owner of the company, Sergio Quintero, 44, who was charged late Saturday with felony possession of a title or registration that has not been assigned, said Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.
Quintero was ordered held in lieu of $25,000 bail in a hearing in Cook County Bond Court Sunday.
Those involved in scrapping stolen vehicles often will use partially blank title documents to make it appear that they held title to a stolen vehicle prior to its being scrapped, officials say.
Police searched the scrap dealer starting about 7 a.m. Friday, and about 2:15 p.m., they found Quintero in the false ceiling of the parts yard's office, trying to hide from officers, Mirabelli said.
The 40-foot-long buses, capable of seating 75 people, were stolen sometime overnight Thursday from the bus company's yard and were not discovered missing until the next morning, police said.
The buses were all equipped with GPS tracking devices, and police were able to track "their entire movement" to the scrap yard on the West Side, police said. Three of the buses were torn apart using heavy equipment, police said.
When officers arrived at the business, several people who apparently worked in the scrap yard ran into a building, police said. Officers initially apprehended one person and later took two others into custody. The owner was arrested about 2:15 p.m. on Friday.
"There was a pile of shredded school buses about two stories high," one police official said. Some pieces were large enough that police could see the Sunrise bus logo, the official said.
Engines and transmissions from the buses had already been cut in half, and the seats tossed in a "big pile of scrap."