EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Police have recovered about three dozen batteries that were stolen from an East Providence bus yard, causing a two-hour delay at city schools on Wednesday.
Police said they were contacted by Berger & Company Recycling in Pawtucket, who purchased the batteries in the morning and then heard they may have been swiped from a yard on Commercial Way.
“I went onto the internet and I saw the story and realized that they were actively looking for the suspects,” company Vice President Sam Sinel said. “We immediately contacted the East Providence police detectives.”
Sinel said they paid about $600 for the batteries Wednesday morning, not knowing at the time they they had been stolen. The two alleged thieves even provided their IDs when making the sale.
“Most criminals are not that bright,” Sinel said. He said the information was turned over to police along with surveillance footage.
“To have a company with good honest people out there willing to step up and help us, helps everybody,” East Providence Police Lt. Raymond Blinn said.
“While we’re out the $600 we paid for the batteries, we believe our reputation is worth more than that,” Sinel said.
The theft was first discovered when 12 school buses failed to start Wednesday morning. It prompted officials to delay the start of school and bring in a new fleet of buses to transport students.
Upon finding the batteries, police said they’re closer to tracking down the suspects but no arrests have been made as of Wednesday night.
Police said the back gate of the bus yard was left open overnight, allowing access to the buses and their batteries. Each one costs $170 new but can be resold for between $15 and $20 each.
“Unfortunately, it’s something that’s happening more and more. It’s one of these crimes of the times,” Blinn said. “We just made an arrest several days ago of another battery suspect.”
“They’re bringing them to scrap yards and turning them in for a little bit of money,” he said, adding that it doesn’t appear the same suspects are responsible in this case. “A lot of them have drug histories.”