Thieves steal airplane project from out-of-town students

A group of engineering students in town from California say they were the victims of a crime at their hotel in Fort Worth.

Their project won them an award this weekend before it was stolen. Their hopes were soaring on Saturday but were crushed on Monday when thieves drove off with their prized airplane project.

It was supposed to be a joyful celebratory day for the engineering students.  They were ready to return to southern California with their winning project.

The dark hotel surveillance video shows the thief driving off in a pickup pulling a trailer loaded with a priceless project and another vehicle following.

"We estimated the plane and stuff inside the trailer to be about $15,000,” explained student Eddie Rodriguez. “And that’s not compared to the amount of work and effort we put into it."

More than a dozen engineering students from Cal State Northridge traveled to Fort Worth for a prestigious competition and their radio-controlled aircraft, The Dragon, won second place overall.

After truck and plan were gone, some of the 18 students were left stranded.

“The truck is my fathers, and the trailer is borrowed from my sister,” Rodriguez said. “We raised money to get here. Now we have no way to get back."

Police are investigating. The students say they've notified their university, which technically owns the plane.

The work on the project began last August. But as one of the mechanical engineering students put it, the now stolen aircraft was the highlight of their entire college career.

"We put our heart and soul into it. All of these years studying at our school, it all came down to this plane,” said student Frank Mejia. “Putting it together and watching it fly, we were so excited. Just proud of it."

Police are still on the lookout for the truck trailer and plane.