MORRISVILLE, Vt. – What possesses a man to steal his ex-employer's bus, take it for a three-state joy ride and then post a video of the lark on YouTube?
"It was inspired," Jacob Rehm, 38, said outside court Tuesday. "I felt inspired."
The vehicle's owner, Lamoille Valley Transportation, was not amused. Neither were authorities, who charged Rehm with theft of services, operating a vehicle without owner consent and trespassing. Neither was a judge, who ordered a competency evaluation for him.
Rehm, a former bus driver for Lamoille Valley, took the bus from the company's depot Nov. 2.
Accompanied by friend Natalie Page, 38, he headed south toward Allentown, Pa., but turned around somewhere in Connecticut after he realized the $200 worth of diesel he had bought wouldn't get them to Pennsylvania and back. Police caught up with him in the northern Vermont town of St. Johnsbury after the company's owners were told he had been seen driving through a schoolyard waving at children.
The $583,000 vehicle, which was normally used for New England fall foliage tours and national park tours, wasn't damaged.
Rehm later posted a four-minute video titled "The Fabulous Bus Ride" on the video-sharing site. "Vid by Jake 'Rolls Royce' Swift," it says in the opening credits, which Rehm said Tuesday is his nom de plume.
The video mostly shows the bus parked by a roadside, but Rehm is also seen in the driver's seat as it travels down a road. A woman sitting in the otherwise-empty bus is seen hiding herself behind a jacket when the camera turns to her.
"It was not premeditated," Rehm said after his arraignment Tuesday in Vermont District Court in Hyde Park. "I did not mean any form of mischief, not at all, or attention seeking, I didn't even do it for that."
Speaking to reporters in front of the courthouse, Rehm shooed away his lawyer, public defender Rory Malone, as Malone tried to get him to stop talking to the press.
Malone wouldn't comment on the case against Rehm.
"At this point, my client has spoken," he said later. "I'm bowing out of it."
Joel Prive, general manager of Lamoille Valley Transportation, said Rehm behaved erratically but was never involved in an accident or traffic violation during his three weeks working for the company in 2006. Customers complained about him acting oddly and out of character from what his bosses expected, though, according to Prive.
He told his employers he lived with friends, but they learned that he was actually homeless and living in a car, Prive said.
If convicted on all three charges, Rehm could get 15 years in prison.
"It's not every day that someone documents their crime and posts it on YouTube," said prosecutor Todd Shove.