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Stupid Case File for December 4, 2005

Authorities Arrest Suspected Balloon Thief

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Authorities have arrested a man they say stole a hot-air balloon from a Knox County home and then broke into another residence where he forced the family there to feed him.

Gregory Allen Williams, 40, was caught by police Friday night as he left the house authorities say he broke into during the evening. Williams made the family there feed him, though the couple's adult daughter hid in a closet and alerted authorities by using her cell phone, said Loudon County Assistant Chief Deputy Jimmy Davis.

The hot-air balloon, which belongs to James Hood, was packed in a trailer and parked in his driveway Friday morning when a neighbor saw someone hitch the trailer to a vehicle and take off, authorities say.

Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison said a pursuit then started. The suspect eventually ditched his vehicle and the balloon trailer in a field in Loudon County and fled into nearby woods.

Hood recovered his trailer and balloon, valued at nearly $30,000. Authorities say Williams was already wanted on a probation violation warrant and now faces felony theft charges.


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