(PRICHARD, Ala.) - Prichard Police officials said six teens have been returned to the Restoration Youth Academy after driving off with an academy van Saturday night.
Officials said the six teens left around 11 p.m. Saturday, but academy leaders weren't aware of their disappearance until 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Police said the teens drove the van toward Lee County in Florida, but were picked up by Florida law enforcement after running out of gas.
The six will not face charges for stealing the van.
Academy Dean William Knott said the kids broke a window to climb out of their bunks all while a night watchman was on duty.
"He heard a noise, he went and looked for the noise and couldn't find a noise," Knott said. "They broke in the office, broke in a key box, stole some keys, stole a van."
Knott said at least four of the teens had prior discipline problems at the academy, but Program Director John Young said at least two of the kids were slated to return to their homes in a couple of months.
"When we found that they were gone, we immediately called Prichard Police," Young said, "and called all the parents, let all the parents know what was going on."
"The parents talked with them, and they chewed them out pretty good. They told them, 'You're going to stay there because you're not coming back home putting me through the same problem you were putting me through.' "
Young said the kids told him they wanted to go to Tampa to "just hang out".
"I said, 'What we're you going to do for food?' One of the kids said, 'I was going to rob me somebody,' " Young said.
Though a very bizarre case, Young admits the academy has its share of runaways; sometimes four a month.
"This facility is not as secure as I would love for it to be to hold them in," Young said. "We have our problems, but we work with what we have."
"If they really make up there mind that they want to run they'll find a way."