Thieves target Crystal school bus

Thieves target Crystal school bus
Fence cut open, blue bandana in foreground with tire tracks in dirt.

Navajo Times | Christopher Pineo
A chain-link fence Crystal Chapter officials said cost them $32,090.56 to install around the property was allegedly cut by thieves sometime between Wednesday evening and Thursday night to get to the head start bus’s fuel. Chapter officials are urging anyone with information about the theft to call the police or the chapter.


Officials at the Crystal Chapter House are asking for help identifying a vehicle used in an act of property damage and theft of gas for the Head Start program there.

A Facebook post from chapter officials said that the chapter house would be closed and bus routes for the Head Start students canceled due to property damage in an incident that happened between Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning.

Tow truck hook grabs back of bus.

A head start bus is towed away by a Navajo Nation tow truck Thursday in Crystal, New Mexico.

“If anyone has seen any vehicle drive around the outside facility between those hours please call the Crystal Chapter at 505-777-2800 or Window Rock Police Department 928-871-6111,” the post said.

Damage on the scene showed tire tracks behind the chapter house and a person-sized hole cut in the fence with footprints headed into the parking lot.

School bus driver Mel Clichee said as he made the rounds to prepare for the business day, he found damage to the bus. The damage caused gas to leak out into the parking lot according to Clichee.

“When I was walking towards it, I saw the big stain on the ground and smelled the gas,” he said.

Then, he checked the gas line.

Dirt-caked fuel bears marks of what appears to be hacksaw.

The fuel line of a head start bus shows where thieves allegedly cut to steal the fuel sometime Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, said Crystal Chapter officials.

“I went underneath and saw that the gas line had been cut,” Clichee said.

He said he believed the party cut the gas line to siphon gas.

“It had half a tank yesterday afternoon when I finished the bus route, and it was below a quarter of a tank this morning,” he said.

Chapter officials said many hours, several meetings, and the cost of installing the fence went into recent improvements to the chapter house. Chapter officials said the fence cost $32,090.56 to install.

Now the chapter must pay for repairs to the fence itself and the bus, which had to be towed off the property for repairs.

“Where do we find the money to fix it?” asked Community Service Coordinator Char Kruger.


 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

Are you a digital subscriber? Read the most recent three weeks of stories by logging in to your online account.

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.

About The Author