For Jefferson School's Bus Driver Robert Ellis Jr., the work day always starts early. But no matter what time the alarm clock rings-- it's hard to miss the school bus, if you're the driver.
That is, until Thursday morning.
"I get up around five, have me a cup of coffee and a cake," said Ellis, who then heads out the door to crank up the Jefferson County school bus in his driveway.
But Thursday morning there was no bus there.
"I had my glasses in my pocket and I thought, 'I'm not seeing very good this morning, I can't even see my bus!'" said Ellis.
He called the depot and they sent him a backup bus- number 47 to replace the missing 46, and he got all the kids to school only 10 minutes late.
But the case of the missing bus wouldn't be solved until that afternoon.
"It's kind of odd for a school bus to be stolen," said Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig.
He says they believe joyriders took a spin Wednesday evening sometime between eight and nine p.m.
Big, bright yellow, and even labelled, a school bus doesn't seem a prime target for thieves. But the funny thing is, it seemed to blend right in.
"We had several calls from people that saw the bus after it was stolen that night but didn't think anything about it," said McCoig.
McCoig says the bus even drove past a deputy patrolling from a parking lot. But it hadn't been reported stolen yet and everyone just assumed it was returning late from a field trip.
Then came the news this afternoon.
A neighbor about two miles from Ellis' house called the sheriff office to report bus #46 had been dumped in his driveway.
"Thank God they didn't wreck it, nobody was hurt," said Ellis.
McCoig says if the joyriders had been out to sell or profit from the bus they could be charged with a Class B Felony.
But he says joyriding seemed to be the only intent. The only damage to the bus was done by a novice driver who didn't know how to release the emergency brake.
Joyriding could carry a Class E Felony, according to McCoig.
He says they have leads and the investigation is ongoing.