A BUS was stolen and taken for a drive a matter of hours after another bus was taken.

The latest incident happened on Saturday night, when a First bus was taken from the company’s workshop in Haven Road, Colchester.

It was driven a few yards down the road before it went up a grass verge and was abandoned outside Ernest Doe agricultural suppliers.

Just 18 hours earlier, police had used an immobilising device to stop another First bus which had been stolen from the company’s depot in Magdalen Street, Colchester.

It brings the total of bus thefts from First, in Colchester, to five in the past two years.

Three have been taken from the Magdalen Street depot in the past eight months.

A source, who the Gazette agreed not to name, said: “There were three buses there that were left outside the workshop.

“One of those was the one that had been damaged when it was previously stolen and crashed last month.

“The latest one was taken down to Ernest Doe and left in the road, up the kerb with the engine running and the lights on.”

The source added: “Youngsters, if it is them, haven’t got anything to do these days and are off school having fun, but this isn’t fun.

“The council, with the police, have a responsibility to pull up First and say ‘you are a liability’.”

A First spokesman said: “We can confirm a vehicle was taken from our engineering site in Haven Road, Colchester, around 10.30pm on Saturday.

“We have launched an internal investigation and we are working closely with Essex Police to identify the perpetrator.”

The company has declined to comment on its security measures.

! A teenager has been charged with aggravated vehicle taking, drink driving and driving without an insurance or licence following the first theft on Saturday to which police were called at about 4am.

Ashley Barrell, 19, of Charles Pell Road, Colchester, was released on bail and is due to appear at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on September 9.