NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man with a record of more than two dozen arrests related to the transit system was arrested again Wednesday – this time on allegations that he stole a Greyhound bus.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, Darius McCollum, 50, was arrested in Park Slope, Brooklyn Wednesday.
Police sources said McCollum has already planned his next heist when he was arrested Wednesday. McCollum told detectives he planned to steal an airplane next, sources said.
The Greyhound bus McCollum allegedly stole had arrived from Philadelphia at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 11 a.m. Wednesday, police told CBS2. It was slated to leave the terminal for Richmond, Virginia at 2:15 p.m.
At 1:30 p.m., Greyhound realized the bus was missing, police said. Ten minutes later, they called their transportation command headquarters Texas, which was able to detect the bus through an onboard GPS, police said.
The GPS tracker found that the bus was on the road in Brooklyn, police said. Greyhound called the NYPD Communications section, which issued an alert to the 78th Precinct where the bus was detected, police said.
“Because all of our coaches are equipped with GPS tracking mechanisms, the bus was recovered quickly,” said Greyhound spokeswoman Ashley Sears.
Officers from the 78th Precinct Anti-Crime team found and pulled over the bus at Third Avenue and Union Street around 4 p.m., police said.
McCollum was behind the wheel, and there were no passengers on the bus, police said.
McCollum was charged with grand larceny, possession of a forged instrument, criminal impersonation of a police officer, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and criminal possession of stolen property.
He has 25 prior arrests related to the transit system.
In 2013, McCollum pleaded guilty to stealing a Trailways bus from a depot in Hoboken three years earlier. He had been arrested behind the wheel in 2010 on the highway that leads to John F. Kennedy International Airport. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison.
McCollum was ordered as part of his 2013 plea deal to voluntarily enter a program to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy. He was diagnosed with what was until recently called Asperger’s syndrome but is now referred to as an autism spectrum disorder, and officials said his repeated arrests stem in part from it.
McCollum had the subway map memorized by the time he was 8, and tried unsuccessfully to get a job with the transit system. Instead he became a transit impostor and has been arrested 29 times. But he is not a violent criminal – he just drives the routes, fixes tracks and takes tolls without an official job until he’s caught by police.
McCollum has become a celebrity for escapades that began at age 15, when he piloted an E train six stops from 34th Street to the World Trade Center without any passengers noticing. He grew up in Queens near a station serving two Metropolitan Transportation Authority lines, and learned the mechanics of the transit system from workers who took an interest in him.
He was arrested for trespassing into a subway control tower in 2000.
In 2004, he attempted to commandeer a Long Island Rail Road train — leading to a jail sentence two years later.
Part of the problem is McCollum wasn’t diagnosed with the disorder until recently. He was first handed literature on the topic about 12 years ago during a Manhattan case, but the judge at the time refused to order a psychiatric evaluation after she said she looked the disorder up online and decided he didn’t have it.
A treatment program had never previously been proposed as a solution to his crimes.
Following his 2013 plea, prosecutors, the judge and his attorney were all hopeful he would be able to stay out of trouble. McCollum said at the time that he would not let them down. At the time, he was staying with friends in Queens, and working with filmmakers making a documentary about his life.
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