When one school bus disappeared, police wondered who would steal it. Then another went missing, and another, until the total reached eight and the mystery deepened.
Were they sold for scrap metal? Stripped for parts? Converted into hunting cabins? Taken out of the country?
Whatever the explanation, at least one full-size regulation yellow bus has disappeared each month since September plus one in May from five locations in south St. Louis County or Jefferson County.
None of the buses has been found.
"Why would you take a school bus, and where do you hide a school bus?" asked Jefferson County sheriff's Capt. Ron Arnhart, speaking for vexed investigators.
"It's not your usual stolen vehicle," said Sgt. Tom Naughton of the St. Louis County police Auto Crime Unit. "Most vehicles come up recovered, and not having these school buses surface anywhere is unusual too."
The FBI was notified, Naughton said, which is standard when a particularly large vehicle or one that a terrorist might use for access to a sensitive area, such as a firetruck or school bus is taken.

Read more: School bus thefts mystify police in Jefferson and St. Louis counties