UPDATE: The owners of a hot air balloon reported stolen from their Las Vegas business said the balloon was found Tuesday morning in a vacant lot near Blue Diamond Road and Jones Boulevard after an 8 News Now viewer saw the story and contacted authorities to report finding the balloon.


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) —  It carries 16 passengers, is worth $175,000 and is filled with 400 pounds of flammable gas. It’s a hot air balloon and its owners say it was stolen from a Las Vegas backlot Monday.

“It was an open flatbed trailer, around 18 feet long that contained a whole basket,” said Jean Francois Rigollet, one of the owners of Vegas Balloon Rides.

The owners of Vegas Balloon Rides were shocked to find one of their balloons missing Monday. Photo: KLAS/8 News Now

J.J. Padro Allende, another owner of the company, says the realization that their hot air balloon was taken was a shocking one.

“We definitely didn’t think our hot air balloon would be stolen,” said Allende.

The stolen balloon, the largest of Vegas Balloon Rides’ fleet, reaches nearly 15 stories in height when fully inflated and Allende says it keeps the business afloat.

“A lot of us depend on this,” said Allende. “This is our livelihood.”

The loss of the balloon isn’t just dangerous to Vegas Balloon Rides’ bottom line. Allende says that the chemicals inside the stolen tank are highly flammable and can be extremely dangerous.

“There’s 400 pounds of flammable gas inside,” Allende said, adding that if the thieves decide to light their haul on fire, it could be extraordinarily destructive.

According to the Vegas Balloon Rides web site, their hot air balloons “ascend at a very slow and gentle climb into the sky.” Photo provided by Vegas Balloon Rides

As to where the balloon went, clues may be hard to come by. The owners are relying on businesses in the area that may have caught the theft on camera. However, Rigollet doesn’t think the parts will be easy for the thieves to sell on the market.

“We expect them to dump them in the desert or small street somewhere,” Rigollet said.

For their part, the owners say they will be reinforcing their security by installing better lighting, cameras and tracking devices to protect their trailers and vehicles. However, the timing of Monday’s theft couldn’t be worse. The loss comes at the onset of one of the company’s biggest seasons, Valentine’s Day.