Joyriding: New Yorker with a history of mass transit thefts steals Greyhound bus

© Blair Gable
Well-known in transit circles, Darius McCollum has been arrested nearly 30 times already for theft of a Trailways bus, impersonating a subway operator, and driving a subway car from 34th Street to the World Trade Center when he was 15.

He was arrested by police again on Wednesday, this time for stealing a Greyhound bus and driving it around Brooklyn.

Police spotted the bus with no passengers traveling down a Brooklyn street, stopped it, arrested McCollum and took him into custody for questioning. The bus had been taken from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

The bus had arrived from Philadelphia on Wednesday morning and was slated to leave for Richmond, Virginia in the afternoon. At 1:30 pm, Greyhound realized the bus was missing. Using GPS from its headquarters in Texas, the company was able to find the vehicle on a road in Brooklyn, according to ABC News.

"We are fully cooperating with local authorities on their investigation and conducting an internal investigation of our own to obtain additional details regarding this incident,” Greyhound said in a statement. “Because all of our coaches are equipped with GPS tracking mechanisms, the bus was recovered quickly."

McCollum, 50, was charged with grand larceny, possession of forged instruments, criminal impersonation of a police officer and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

According to ABC, McCollum told detectives he wanted to steal a plane.

McCollum has a lengthy arrest record for crimes related to trains and the New York City subway system, and has spent more than a third of his life in jail for transit-related offenses. He is well-known in transport circles, has a compulsion to operate trains and buses, and has desired to be part of what he calls “the best” public-transit system in the world.

"I just love everything about it," he said in a July 9 interview at Rikers Island jail, according to the Wall Street Journal. "I love the atmosphere, I love the lights, I love the signals. I love the fact that it's moving all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There's nothing negative I can say about the transit system."

A prison psychiatrist diagnosed McCollum with Asperger’s syndrome, and from an early age he has been obsessed with trains, frequently riding them for days at a time. He has been rejected by the New York City Transit Authority for employment on numerous occasions despite knowing more about the trains, schedules, procedures and rail operations than any current employee.

His arrests began in 1981, when at the age of 15 when he drove the E train from 34th Street full of passengers to the World Trade Center.

In 2000, McCollum “attempted grand larceny” by signing out a train to “perform duties” and then signing it back in. He was sentenced to up to five years in prison. In 2008, he was arrested trying to enter a restricted area while wearing a hardhat and carrying a knapsack, flashlight and gloves with a Transit Authority logo. He was charged with criminal impersonation but later released. Nine months later, he was arrested again for impersonating a Long Island Rail Road employee and answering passengers’ questions.

In 2010, he was arrested for the 27th time, charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property when he took a Trailways bus from Hoboken, New Jersey, and drove it for two hours around JFK Airport and Jamaica in New York. He pleaded guilty to stealing the bus. He was released on parole in 2013, which ended in August 2015.

His adventures and exploits have made him a minor cult figure after the NYCTA posted thousands of wanted posters in trains and stations so riders could report sightings. His life became the focus of a play Boy Steals Train, that won an award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2003, and his life has become the topic of BBC and CBS radio plays.

"I feel I just need to be there even if it's just for a little while," McCollum said of the subways, reported the Wall Street Journal. "And then the more I'm there the more I want to get involved."