Officers rode on board a special single-decker bus with reinforced windows, which had been mocked up to look like the normal bus service. But instead of stopping to pick up passengers it made a circular tour of the villages of Goldthorpe and Bolton-on-Dearne, hunting for vandals.
They did not have long to wait as the 224 Doncaster-Mexborough evening service came under attack from a barrage of missiles. Ten police officers then emerged from the bus and apprehended the shocked miscreants.
Four youths were arrested, for lighting and setting off fireworks towards the bus and also for throwing a brick. Seventeen youths aged from 13 upwards were also stopped and searched for setting off fireworks on the streets. Alcohol was seized from one teenager and another was quizzed over a bin fire.
The tasking officer for the Dearne Safer Neighbourhood Team, Allan Sneddon, said the yobs were shocked to find a bus full of police officers and community support officers.
He said: "We got the bus at short notice to use for the operation because officials were going to withdraw the well used service.
"The buses were being targeted with a lot of anti-social behaviour on the route. Hopefully this has curtailed it.
"But we have got this bus facility available to us and any more repercussions following the operation we will certainly use it again."
Operations manager Paul Sylvester, for bus company Stagecoach Yorkshire, said the hooligan crackdown had saved the service and the firm would now continue to run buses on the route.
He said: "Several incidents of anti-social behaviour had threatened to jeopardise the continuation of this service during the evening which runs through Bolton-on-Dearne and Goldthorpe."