A 12-year-old boy pinched a school bus and managed to drive it along 14 miles of four-lane highway before being caught out thanks to his dodgy parking skills.
Michael Wade Propst now faces charges of theft and 'criminal mischief' over the incident, which saw him drive across Bay County, Florida in the early hours of the morning without alerting the attention of authorities.
Michael is alleged to have taken the school bus from outside a residential property in the town of Parker after noticing that the keys had been left in the ignition. He then drove for nearly 15 miles along a four-lane highway to reach the neighbouring town of Panama City.
In fact, Propst's dangerous prank was only cut short when supermarket workers noticed him struggling to park the vehicle in their car park at a Wal-Mart in Panama City Beach - 14 miles from home.
"It was just odd the way they were driving it," employee Roy Hoover told the Panama City News Herald. "He was having a hard time parking it, like he'd never drove one before."
The local sheriff's office received a call around 5am alerting them to the youthful driver in the car park. Initially, Michael tried to convince deputies that an adult had asked him to get petrol, but later admitted that he had stolen the vehicle.
The bus driver has now been suspended after admitting leaving the keys in the ignition.
The district's school safety officer Mike Jones said that it appeared to be a crime of opportunity. "He did say 'I saw the bus. The door was open. That's what intrigued me,'" Jones told local news outlet WMBB. It remained unclear why Michael was roaming the neighbourhood at 4am in the first place.
Jones admitted that investigators were impressed - and not a little baffled - by the lad's skill behind the wheel.
"You have to take a week-long course to operate a bus like that. Yet at 12 he was able to drive one, and he didn't just take it around the block," Jones told the News Herald.
Despite being years away from getting a license, Michael managed to drive nearly 15 miles without causing any damage but a scrape to the yellow schoolbus.
However, school officials and law enforcement were quick to emphasise that this did not detract from the seriousness of the prank.
"He could have hurt himself or somebody else in the community," Jones warned. "That didn't happen. We were lucky. He was lucky, and we're grateful that nobody was hurt."
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