Hot air balloon is hot property

Mark Stelling, a hot air balloonist from Edinburgh, is offering a ride for free in his hot air balloon – to the person who finds his stolen hot air balloon.

The balloon, complete with basket, burner, several tanks of propane gas and the inflation tank, was packed into a trailer which Stelling had left at a friend’s house in Low Worsall, in preparation for a hot air ballooning event to be held in nearby Thirsk.

On returning from a few days’ holiday, Stelling was devastated to find that the trailer and balloon, which he estimates together have a value of £15,000, had disappeared. North Yorkshire police investigating the theft believe the thieves were targeting the trailer, unaware of the contents, seizing their opportunity at some time between 15th and 17th July.

The hot air balloon itself is well-known in ballooning circles, having a distinctive chequered pattern and being clearly marked with its unique number, making it extremely difficult to use or sell. Police fear that as soon as the thieves discover how hot their haul really is, the balloon is likely to be dumped while they concentrate on disguising and selling the fibre-glass trailer.

Stelling is anxious to recover his balloon and the accessories, not only so that he can participate in the event scheduled at Thirsk, but because he is concerned that the condition of the hot air balloon will deteriorate quickly. He hopes his offer of a free hot air balloon ride will prove effective in discovering its whereabouts.

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