According to the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department:
Jonathan Cole Collins, 18, of Ga. 341 in Flintstone was arrested for theft on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Collins remained in Catoosa County jail on Monday, Feb. 11, with a bond set at $5,000.
Around 8 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, officers with the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department and deputies with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office were dealing with questions surrounding a school bus that had mysteriously disappeared from one elementary school and had shown up at another.
The bus, No. 77, was left on the lot of Battlefield Primary School at 2204 Ga. 2 (Battlefield Parkway) in Fort Oglethorpe by the driver about 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1.
“The theft was discovered by the driver when she returned to the lot to retrieve it on Monday morning Feb. 4,” officer Mitchell Moore wrote in the report. “The loss was being reported to the shop manager at virtually the same time a Walker County Sheriff’s deputy was calling to report that the bus had been recovered.”
The bus was recovered on the lot of the Chattanooga Valley Elementary School, about eight miles away in Walker County.
The bus was driven back to Fort Oglethorpe, where the case was turned over to detective James Leamon.
“I worked with the transportation manager of the Catoosa County school system to retrieve footage of the suspect from the on-board bus video camera,” Leamon said. “We were then able to take warrants on the suspect Jonathan Collins and I brought him in for an interview.”
Leamon then discussed the 20-minute joyride with Collins, who offered the simple explanation that he had become tired of walking.
It was also discovered that Collins had just been released from the Catoosa County jail on Friday, Feb. 1, after serving two weeks for a misdemeanor drug charge.
“He (Collins) was arrested on Jan. 18 at the Cloud Springs Lodge on a drug charge and had just been released on his own recognizance before the bus theft took place,” Leamon said. “He stated that he had walked into Fort Oglethorpe from the Catoosa County Detention Center (a trip of about 6½ miles), and was getting tired. He saw the open bus door, the keys inside, and decided that he wasn’t going to walk anymore.”
Leamon says that there was no damage whatsoever to the bus.
“It was just a simple matter of him wanting to get from point A to point B,” Leamon said. “But now you’ve got a kid who served two weeks for a misdemeanor drug charge, and now he’s right back in there on a felony charge.”