ANAHEIM : Phone Tip Leads to Stolen $300,000 Bus

Slightly bashed and battered, a stolen prizewinning customized tour bus was recovered Thursday in a hotel parking lot, about a mile from where it had disappeared three days earlier.

The $300,000 Valen Transportation & Tours bus was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Conestoga Hotel, 1240 S. Walnut St., after its owner, Michael Valen, received an anonymous phone call telling him where to find it.

The bus had been stolen from the parking lot of the Penny Sleeper Inn, 1441 S. Manchester Ave., early Monday morning.

The 42-passenger bus, which took first prize for interior design at a recent industry trade convention, appeared to have been sideswiped on its passenger side's baggage compartment, causing about $5,000 damage, Valen said.

But he said its TV, refrigerators and VCR were not stolen, and it had been driven only about five miles.

"I guess somebody just took it for a joy ride, but if you're going on a joy ride there are easier things to take than a bus," Valen said. "Obviously, they couldn't drive it very well."

Police said they have no suspect.

Valen said he sees no indications that the vehicle's door locks had been forced or the ignition tampered with.

"So it was taken by somebody who knew what they were doing or somebody has somehow gotten a copy of the key," Valen said.

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