Man stole buses, drove them on routes, returned them at night

200807251348.jpgIf James L. Harris really did what police say he did, then I would like to award him a Happy Mutant Criminal Award certificate.
The 18-year-old is accused of stealing at least three Miami-Dade Transist buses, and driving them on their routes.

Poilice say Harris wore a Miami-Dade Transit employee uniform, did not steal the fares, and returned the buses to the depot each night.

He's been charged with three counts each of third-degree grand theft and burglary of an occupied conveyance.

Man Stole Miami-Dade Buses, Drove Them On Routes ( (via Arbroath)


  1. Maybe he’s trying to get sent to prison so he can break out with his brother who was wrongly imprisoned through some sort of governmental conspiracy.

  2. I guess he actually saved the city some money, since he didn’t keep the fares and wasn’t collecting a salary.

  3. Charging him is silly. Hiring him would be brilliant.

    That’s a man who wants to be in the BUS BUSINESS.

  4. It is odd if any employees at the bus company were helping him, since you would expect they would go on strike if someone undercut their pay like that.

  5. More like the “George Costanza Award.”

    Something fishy– Not anybody can just walk into a bus depot and drive away with a bus, sure he had a uniform but where did he get it?

    Almost makes me think this is a misunderstanding, or they are railroading him. . . that’s IT! They are trying to find ways to cut costs, so they lure unsuspecting new drivers in, give them uniforms, then when payday comes they call the cops and say “this guys has been driving the bus without authorization!”


  6. “Burglary of an occupied conveyance”

    That sounds like train robbery or carjacking – a pretty far cry burgling conveyances that are unoccupied, in order to get them occupied.

  7. Heh. In the old days, the union bosses would have broken his legs for scabbing like that. ;-)

  8. Lou Dobbs shall be award one-half points for finally being at least 50 percent correct. People are stealing jobs, but it turns out those people are also hard-working Americans. Nice try, Lou.

  9. #13 He was probably the ONLY bus that was on schedule.

    I agree with some others here, the kid should be given a job with Transit not a cell.

  10. @Lucifer #19: I hope you mean that you charged her with third-degree grand theft and burglary of an occupied conveyance, otherwise, yuck! I don’t want to know what you mean.

  11. I am having a tough time with this one. Sure, if he was not mislead in anyway, then yes, he broke the law, and should be punished. However, given the nature of this case, it would seem that he did not violate the essence of the law, or the entire idea of justice.

    Given the idea of precedence, you can’t have people doing anything they want, whenever they want, so this person should get some form of punishment. However, it should be lessened to the point of a non-jailable offence.

    I am all for hiring him afterward as well, though.

  12. They should make him do community service in recompense.
    He could… oh, I dunno, drive a bus or something?

  13. This happened a few years ago in Melbourne – a fourteen year old boy stole a tram, drove it on it’s proper route, collected passengers (fares are automated though) and returned it undamaged. The tram people didn’t press charges and told him to come back in a few years ;-)

  14. A lot of people are praising him, but I’m willing to bet any amount of money that this kid is quite ill and that his bus-theft is a symptom of larger psychological issues.

    I mean, he stole buses. At night. Without telling anyone, and then returning them. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he has some sort of depression where he tries to manufacture a “normal” life, that of a bus-driver (I’m just guessing here, he could just be delusional or something).

    I mean, lets consider this story from all angles: he would have gone to enormous amounts of imposition at the same time as he is getting exactly nothing out of it. No money, no appriciation, and a huge risk of being arrested (he did break and enter, after all). And he didn’t once advertise what he was doing, so it wasn’t because of wanting renown or anything. He even went to great distances to disguise himself! He probably wanted everyone to think that he really was a bus-driver. And people who ride the bus at night aren’t the most pleasant people.

    This is not how a healthy person acts. Sure, it’s a fun story on the surface, but we should feel empathy for this kid, who’s now probably going to jail, not the healthiest environment for people with mental problems. If he falls into a bad crowd and gets into drugs, it’s very possible that his whole life is ruined because of this.

  15. Another kid did this habitually in San Francisco about 1980. The head of Muni was quoted as saying of his busses, “they’re kind of like unguided missiles – we send them out in the morning and hope they come back at night”.

  16. Perhaps he owed someone who worked for the company a favour, and they said that he could repay them by taking over their job for a while?

  17. He’ll probably get the full sentence. If he was white, they would have let him go. Florida fucking sucks.

  18. You’ve all got the wrong idea. He was one of those “extreme milers” that are popping up on CNN puff pieces these days… people who do things like remove the steering column from their Civic Hybrids and 1984 Trabant Minis so that they’ll get 51.0003 MPG instead of 51.

    The big thing in that community these days is PMPG, or person-miles per gallon. You’re nobody if you’re not getting at least 200 PMPG. So when this guy’s carpool schedule fell apart, he did the only thing he could do to save face: he stole a public transit vehicle.

  19. The story is going to get more interesting once the kid has his say about it all. From his expression in the picture it’s easy to think of him doing this in order to right a wrong. I bet the buses weren’t running regularly.

  20. If he’s found guilty, a clever judge will sentence him to community service and allow him to count the hours he spent providing free work hours to the county.

  21. the transit authority became suspicious when it was reported that one of the busses was actually running ON TIME! police action was swift and decisive. he committed the cardinal sin. he made the rest of the transit authority look bad. they need to save the taxpayers the cash of a trial, and put it towards hiring this young man!

  22. Seinfeld: “You kept making all the stops?!”

    Kramer: “Well, people kept ringing the bell!”

  23. Hopefully, there is a growing underground army of conscientious, civic minded (and punctual) activists. Soon they will have everything running smoothly and efficiently. Think of it!

  24. Does he have a CDL? If not, well, that’s something I’m afraid I’d have to fault him for. Driving a bus full of people is a big responsibility, and that’s why the state of Florida licenses people who drive them.

    Still, I’d say let him go ahead and take the required training hours and tests; he’d probably pass with flying colors.

  25. Sorry Lenny Clarke beat all those posers to the punch back in the 1970s

    Lenny Clarke

    Clarke ran for mayor of Cambridge, MA. When asked by Leary what his platform was, Clarke replied “Fuck the Kennedys”. Clarke had buttons and bumper stickers made with this slogan on them. In an attempt to spark interest in his campaign, Clarke stole a Boston bus and began driving it around until he realized it was just him driving a bus. Clarke then began to pick up random people and drop them at their doors.

  26. All these “he’s a hero!” comments are pretty silly. Say I grab a white lab coat and go into a gynecologist’s office. You’ve been patiently waiting, so I tell you to get into the stirrups and I get to work.

    Now, I don’t do anything too icky, and in fact, due to having read a lot of books on the subject, I give a reasonably professional examination and diagnosis.

    Am I now a hero?

  27. “Am I now a hero?” Um, no… you’re not. Maybe just someone with a sub-par sense of humor.

    Equating someone who impersonates a bus driver to someone who would do same as a gynecologist, well… that IS pretty icky.

  28. Personally, I’d be more worried about me being in a gynecologists office, what with my outie, rather than an innie. As I understand it, it is generally considered to be a critical difference in such an establishment.

  29. I really hate pigs but I want the guy operating 20 tons of machinery while I’m crossing the road at night to have some sort of training and not possibly be a guy working on convincing himself to commit suicide along with everyone else on the bus.

  30. A question,

    He took the buses, fair enough. Ho took the fares, fare enough (no pun intended).

    He RETURNED all of them, this is not theft. Theft is to deprive ownership and he returned all the items, what has he stolen?

    I would have thought that dangerous driving and driving without insurance would have been the charges. In the UK we have Taking Without Consent, called TWOKing (hey were Brits, we do funny things OK). This was invented exactly for the above reasons

  31. Yep, looks like another Darius McCollum in the making. Darius has been driving New York City subways and getting arrested for it, over and over and over, for most of his adult life: 23 times between 1981 and last month. He has Asperger’s and trains are his only interest. When he was a teenager he spent all his time hanging around the train yard. Subway drivers taught him to drive and would pay him to run their routes when they were too hung over to go to work. That’s how he first got the uniforms and the keys.

    Harper’s had an amazing, in depth article about him a few years ago that was absolutely heartbreaking. It seems that he truly does not understand why there is a problem with him driving the trains. I always wondered why didn’t they just give him a JOB?

  32. #46 was close. no one else seems to understand the import of this. #54 asked what this guy’s motivation was.

    this man is obviously an important member of the underground disestablishment movement known as: “WRENCH IN THE COG”. (Working Reality Eternally Necessitates Cognizant Humans IN THE Care Of God”

    what wasn’t mentioned in the report is whether or not he charged everyone to ride the bus.

    one of his objectives was to subtly indicate to the passengers that they need not pay, and to allow them to ride for free.

    in order to instigate and demonstrate this, other members of the movement would board the bus on occasion, hesitate to pay, allow the bus driver to smile and look away, and then move forward without paying in such a way that other passengers could clearly see the interaction and contemplate its import… and consequently inspire them to try it themselves or at least to stir them with the novelty of the situation.

    although apparently a meaningless and insignificant gesture, the movement’s psychology strategems division had ascertained that this (among other undisclosed similar methods now in progress) would have long-standing psychological impacts on the passengers, creating a euphoric rush accompanied by the sentiment “what would it be like if the society were not run by evil power mongers?”.

    the psych strategems division of WRENCH IN THE COG had calculated that a surprisingly low threshold existed wherein, once reached, a critical mass of affected individuals could easily be reached and large-scale transformations would be set in motion on the grass’s-roots of society.

    these, in turn, are to set the stage for further developments outlined in the strategems’ key-plans.

  33. well,he IS 18 and black and living in Florida. Best if he is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That way as much money as possible can be taken away from violent crime and the court system plugged up to peak. Further, his criminal record will prevent him from ever having a real job and paying taxes which in turn will give employment to may state employees in the prison/parole industry. Further benefit will derive for the health care sector when he almost certainly contracts HIV and/or hepatitis in prison which also spins off for the drug manufacturers. Hollywood will also reap direct advantage from the re-telling of his dramatic story though they will have to change the details enough to avoid any royalty payments. Yes, this young American can do much for his country and I’m sure he is proud to contribute in this way rather than such silliness as safely conveying people around on their lawful occasions. I wonder, is it too late to take a life insurance policy out on him?

  34. Ijacker; he should try harder. If you drew a Venn diagram with “bus driving” and “fun”, they would only overlap a little.

  35. @Elbee

    That explains everything. There’s this conductor on the G line in Brooklyn that is super smart, friendly, has an 800 SAT vocabulary, etc … and always makes me wonder, “why is this guy driving the train?” It’s gotta be McCollum.

  36. Large buses are not simple to operate. He could have really hurt somebody – a pedestrian or cyclist obviously, but also another driver (collisions with buses are very one-sided), or even all of the unsuspecting passengers.

    >Something fishy– Not anybody can just walk into a >bus depot and drive away with a bus, sure he had a >uniform but where did he get it?”

    You can usually find all sorts of uniforms at thrift stores (Goodwill, etc.).

  37. #56

    That is all extremely interesting. You have given a name to a phenomena that we may have all experienced, but never noticed.


    That was exactly my point of precedence. In this situation, it was harmless, and sort of heartwarming. However, letting this go by completely unpunished would open the door to all types of behaviour that we simply cannot accept.

    LOL @ #59

    # 62

    You are right. That is why some action must be taken. However, nobody was hurt, that is where the spirit of the legality in this case takes place. Trying him fully, would undermine what the legal system was put in place to do, protect the society.


    That is EXACTLY the kind of creative sentencing that this case needs. The court could try to down play the actual sentence to the public, emphasizing that action was taken, but the individual should really not be punished too harshly in practice.

  38. the miami herald’s article was much more detailed. this poor guy is obviously off his rocker. at one point during one of his joy rides, he was caught on the bus’s cctv making out with some dude on at the bus stop, apparently a stranger.

  39. Well, the guy who was making out with him wasn’t crazy, unless that picture is unbelievably flattering.

    1. the guy who was making out with him wasn’t crazy

      He’s good-looking, he’s honest and he can drive the bus all night long. What more could you want?

  40. Isn’t “burglary of an occupied conveyance” called “carjacking” when it’s at home? If so, this is a bullshit inflated charge.

  41. @14: you will be getting the bill for the professional cleaning of my laptop. Kayboards and shredded wheat don’t mix well or, rather, they do all too well.

  42. Wow!
    77 comments and just 3 users affected by “REALITY PARANOIA” (=people who can not accept dreamers like HARRIS)!
    I feel there is hope for our society if there are so many people ready to smile and support Harris dream!

  43. The Darius McCollum story really should be made into a movie. I keep picturing this scene:

    Detective: If the witness is right, he stole the train, uh, twelve minutes ago.
    Chief: He could be anywhere by now!

  44. Perhaps the Zucker bros. & Jim Abrahams would be interested.

    Antinous, O Sharer of Knowledge, what are the requirements for the profile page picture? I can’t seem to replace my placeholder pic. Almost had a tongue twister going there…

  45. My first thought was Darius McCollum, also.

    Slap him on the wrist for breaking the law, and then give him a job. It’s obvious he wants it.

  46. Could it be that he did it because he figured he wouldn’t get hired otherwise? After all so many programs are so full that the preference points given for parole’s and convicted felons just might be the difference in Florida.

    This way the Transit authority can pick up $2400 from the Federal Government for “giving him a chance” and they get to do minimum wage and keep him a mere 6 months. Net profit…

  47. There something puzzling about this story..

    If he stole the bus and drove it on its route wouldn’t there be a bus driver somewhere going “Where’s my bus” when he went to start his route that day?

    What did that guy do for the rest of his shift? “oh well, I guess I will go home”?

    Don’t most buses have a number painted on them that makes them easily spotted from a helicopter.

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