The Chula Vista Police are investigating a series of thefts that left 19 buses without batteries.
Employees reported the thefts on July 3 and July 5, Chula Vista Police Lt. Fritz Reber said, and in both cases the suspect cut a hole in a chain-link fence to gain entry to a secured yard.
On July 3, ten buses lost a total of thirty batteries valued at $125 each were stolen. On July 5, nine buses were hit and 27 batteries valued at the same amount were stolen. Each bus had three DEKA-brand batteries.
"It's the first time in my memory so many have been taken in such a short time," said Reber.
Other buses in the yard had their compartments entered but did not have batteries gone, according to Reber.
The school district replaced the batteries almost immediately, buying new ones just a block away.
Now, detectives are scanning websites to try to find the stolen property.
"We're checking some social media sights, eBay, to see who is selling them, who is buying them, what the demand might be out there," said Reber.
On the secondhand market, bus batteries are purchased for construction equipment, motor homes and backup power for solar panels.
If stealing batteries sounds like a minor offense, police said it can add up. The theft of 57 batteries adds up to 19 felony counts.
He said there is no surveillance video of the incident and there is no suspect information, but police did collect fingerprints. They said they have yet to identify someone based off those fingerprints.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Chula Vista police.