[UPDATE: Reward offered in school bus vandalism]
POLAND — Vandals slashed tires on all 22 school buses and a pickup truck at the Regional School Unit 16 administrative office early Wednesday, police said.
Classes were canceled as police investigated the vandalism at the intersection of Aggregate Road and Route 26. The damage was estimated at more than $12,000.
The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crime, committed about 12:35 a.m., as an aggravated criminal mischief case, Chief Deputy William Gagne said.
Police have obtained video surveillance showing two white males who used their shirts to conceal their faces, Gagne said.
The video also shows one of the men opening the driver’s side door of a bus and getting in, emerging minutes later.
The school has ordered new tires and mechanics “will be working hard today to have the buses repaired and ready for school” Thursday, according to a school district Facebook post.
Craig Worth, director of operations in RSU 16, which serves 1,744 students from Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot, said Wednesday that two crews were busy replacing the slashed tires. He expected all of the damaged buses to be back on the road early Thursday in time for student pickup.
“I think with these two tire crews, we’re going to be in good shape for tomorrow morning,” Worth said.
Mechanics were also checking the bus fleet for other damage, he said.
The tire damage was discovered Wednesday morning before 6 a.m. as bus drivers began their daily inspections, Worth said.
“This inspection was pretty short because it was pretty obvious the tires were impacted,” he said.
According to school officials, the district will likely have to make up the missed day, but will work with the state to see whether there is chance of getting a waiver.
Officers are also investigating a criminal mischief case that was reported at a vacant home on Rosewood Drive in Poland, a short distance from the RSU 16 office, Gagne said.
They are also investigating a report of a vehicle stolen from Lower Road in Minot, near the Poland-Minot line. The vehicle was later recovered on Hardscrabble Road in Poland.
Gagne said it was unclear if the three incidents were related.
All extracurricular activities, including a spring concert at Poland Community School, were canceled Wednesday.