Cell Phone’s GPS Coordinates, Court-Ordered to be Revealed, Lead to 2nd Arrest in School Bus Thefts
FlaglerLive | May 20, 2014
An investigation by Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives led to the arrest of a second suspect and his booking at the Flagler County jail Monday in connection with the theft of two Flagler school buses from a district depot last July. The tracking of his cell phone played a key role in his arrest.
Myron Vanzel Brown, 39, of 1518 Detroit Street in Jacksonville, was arrested by Duval County sheriff’s deputies last week on the Flagler County warrants and booked at the Flagler jail early Monday morning. He faces a half dozen charges, all of them second and third-degree felonies, including grand theft auto, dealing in stolen property, burglary and criminal mischief.
Last November, when authorities were tipped off by the presence of the two school buses at a college football game in Georgia—those buses had been stolen from another district—the trail led back to a company called 95 South Tours and Transportation in Jacksonville, owned by Alphonso Bernard Rock. The exterior of the stolen buses had been marked with the sign, “95 South Tours Inc.,” and listed “A.B. Rock” as a contact person, with a phone number. The company is often used by schools to transport students to sporting events in the Jacksonville area, and across the border in Georgia. Rock at the time said he had no involvement in the thefts, and last month pleaded not guilty in Duval County Circuit Court.
The 95 South Tours connection then led to Brown, who worked at the company.
Brown owns a white, police-style 2006 Chevrolet Impala. It was a white, police-style Chevrolet Impala that was caught on surveillance video the night of July 27, 2013, entering the bus depot behind Flagler Palm Coast High School, and later exiting it, along with the two Bluebird buses, each valued at $34,400.
Detectives, through a court order, obtained Brown’s Sprint cell phone records. The records revealed that the night of the bus thefts—precisely two minutes after the buses are seen leaving the bus garage, with the time stamp on the surveillance video—Brown made an outgoing call. Cell calls’ geographical location is always recorded. The location, by latitude and longitude, pinpointed the user of the cell phone as having made the call from Bulldog Drive in Palm Coast, exactly 1,000 feet south of the high school’s Transportation Way.
The cell phone then recorded six additional calls between 9:28 and 9:56 pm. Each call left a geographical marker. The markers traced a line from Palm Coast north, on I-95, toward Jacksonville. In essence, Brown, if he was the person using his own phone, recorded himself at the scene of the theft, then along the getaway road. The calls led straight to the address of 95 South Tours.
Before that set of calls and after it, Brown made numerous calls to his girlfriend, who is also a suspect in the case, though, as it remains an open investigation, authorities are withholding her name. Brown’s girlfriend and another woman nick-named “Moo Moo” are believed to have been his accomplices in the Flagler theft, with Brown driving his Impala and each of the women driving one of the buses.
The girlfriend’s cell phone records were also obtained. Those records also show that the hone was used in the same vicinity as Brown’s the night of the thefts. The phone records also show that the woman and Brown were in the area of Valdosta, Ga., the night the buses belonging to another school district were stolen there. Brown’s girlfriend, according to his arrest report, confessed to traveling with Brown and Moo Moo to Valdosta, but, she said, “I didn’t know he was gonna steal them buses until we got there.”
The woman described the operation: Brown parked his Impala at a certain distance and told the women to wait. He would then call to them and give them instructions as to what to do in the lot. The keys would already be in the ignition, and the bus running, when the women would get in to drive the buses to 95 South Tours.
The buses stolen from Flagler, while relatively new, never caused an issue with transportation, as school was not in session at the time. Nor did the district recover them. Rather, it filed an insurance claim, got reimbursed, and used the money to complete an $812,000 purchase of seven new buses, which are now in service.
Three years ago, Myron Vanzel Brown was arrested in Duval County for fraudulently using someone else’s credit card. In February, he was arrested for auto theft and dealing in stolen property. The charges he face could result in multiple prison terms of 15 years each.