City Bus Thief Goes on Wild Ride Over Railroad Tracks, Crashes Into a Backyard

A man believed to be high on drugs stole an Orbit bus in Tempe this morning and took it for a dangerous ride through neighborhoods and across railroad tracks before crashing into a backyard fence.

The suspect, later identified as James Martin, 26, was taken into custody after he jumped into another backyard and was apparently stopped by a homeowner's dogs.

See also: -Greyhound Bus Crashes After Passenger Attacks Driver; 24 Hospitalized

The incident began about 7:30 a.m. near a police station at the Tempe Transportation Center on Fifth Street, when the man hopped into the driver's seat of the running bus, says Sergeant Michael Pooley, Tempe police spokesman. Nobody was in the small bus, which seats 17.

He drove it around the downtown Tempe area for a while before police located the bus near 13th Street and Mill Avenue via its on-board GPS system.

Near the cul-de-sac on West Hudson Lane, west of Mill Avenue, the thief plowed through a homeowner's fence and property and drove the bus onto freight-train tracks, headed east. Pooley tells us the bus crossed over the railroad bridge just north of Broadway Road and entered a railroad easement between rows of homes with a police SUV following on the tracks.

Just before reaching College Avenue, the man steered the bus north off the tracks and into the alley-like easement, which is lined with garbage cans. He then jumped from the bus while it was still moving and allowed it to crash into a block fence. Cops nabbed him cowering from a homeowner's dogs soon after. Pooley says about 20 minutes elapsed from theft to arrest.

Pooley says video from inside the bus will be available at some point.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.