RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) – The man who stole a charter bus from a Rapid City hotel wanted a nap first, and then, he stole the bus.
Edwardo Santiago, 39 of Rapid City, was arrested in Lyman County on September 14 and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, driving with a revoked license, intentional damage to property, possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Santiago is accused of stealing a charter bus owned by Le Bus at 5:40 a.m. MT on Thursday. Troopers later found Santiago driving the bus at 2:11 p.m. CT on Interstate 90 near Chamberlain. Santiago told police he planned on taking the bus for a “joyride” to Sioux Falls.
“It’s just insane isn’t it, that somebody thinks they can get into a bus and get away with it,” said Bryan Copyak, the general manager for Le Bus. “How do you not see a bus going down the road? If it was a Honda Civic, there’s thousands of them, but a bus? Come on.”
During the eight hours that Santiago possessed the vehicle, police say he pulled off the interstate a few times to take a nap before continuing east. Santiago told police he was planning on leaving the bus in Sioux Falls and letting the bus company know where it was.
Court documents state that Santiago noticed the bus doors were left open at around 4 a.m. and entered to take a nap. The documents say Santiago saw keys left in the bus, but when it wouldn’t start, he went on YouTube to learn how to turn the parking brake off, which he was obviously successful at.
Rapid City Public Information Officer Brendyn Medina said the bus was stolen from the Holiday Inn on 5th Street and was last seen in the area at 6 a.m. driving on N. Ellsworth Road.
The RCPD posted a photo of the bus on their social media, asking for help locating the bus. The word quickly spread across the state and a trooper in Lyman County noticed the bus with a matching license plate driving near mile marker 235 on Interstate 90.
“We had posted the bus on social media and it had gained quite a bit of traction as we had expected because a stolen tour is not a very common occurrence,” Medina said.
Lyman County Sheriff Steve Manger said the trooper followed behind the bus until he and other officers caught up to it and pulled him over. Manger said there was no chase and Santiago complied.
“Once we had everyone in place we conducted a traffic stop and he pulled to the right shoulder of the road and gave up, thank God,” Manger said.
According to Copyak, the charter was part of a National Park tour and 35 passengers were expected to board that morning for Wyoming. Copyak said they were able to get another bus and driver to Rapid City in time so none of the tour schedule was interrupted. Copyak also said there was another bus broken into, but was not stolen.
Santiago drove the bus for 10 minutes before Copyak thinks he noticed the dash camera and GPS device and destroyed them. His property damage charge is between $1,001-$2,500. Copyak said the bus is back in Le Bus’ possession, but will need to be repaired before hitting the road again.
Le Bus hosts travel tours across the United States and frequently stops in Rapid City. Although Le Bus travels to cities like Las Vegas and landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Copyak said they experience the most problems in South Dakota.
“We have more crime issues in Rapid City than we do anywhere else we travel to,” he said. “Last year we got broken into. I know friends that have bus companies that their buses have been broken into. So there’s definitely a big problem out in that area.”