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School district building a fence against thieves


Bus mechanic George Davis holds one of the gas lines that had been cut for three Head Start buses. Fuel thieves cut into the fuel hose and then ran a siphon hose into the tank to drain the fuel. Buses have been plagued by fuel thieves recently.

The Grand Coulee Dam School District board approved construction of a heavy-gauge chain link fence at the district's bus complex to protect its fleet from fuel thieves.

At a meeting Thursday, board members received a rundown on incidents when thieves have emptied fuel tanks, stolen tires and batteries, and even taken extension cords.

Just recently, bus personnel have had to contend with thieves cutting fuel hoses on three Head Start buses.

The cost of replacing hoses on those buses runs about $135 each. Bus personnel stated the loss of fuel runs about $100. Then add up the repair time. In two instances Head Start bus repair has included a tow from Keller, a downed bus in Omak and an incident in Nespelem.

In all, the cost of the thefts includes hours of repair time, the cost of parts and the loss of gas.

Thieves cut the fuel hose, shove a siphon hose down into the tank and remove the fuel.

The fencing project, costing about $16,000, will put all buses inside a security area that really won't be secure at all. With the new fencing, there are at least three places toward the back of the parking area that thieves can just walk into the "secured" area.

One is a gate in the baseball fencing that can't be secured without repair. A second is open space between a gate and a storage area, and a third is a gate at the end of the lot that isn't secure.

The district is aware of these issues, but has to find unbudgeted money for the fix.

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