‘Baby Bee’ balloon stolen ahead of Special Shape Rodeo, recovered

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The “Baby Bee” balloon Joelly was missing from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s Special Shape Rodeo Thursday morning after the trailer was stolen overnight.

The other bees, Joey and Lilly, had to fly without their baby.

“Joey and Lilly are not complete right now without Joelle, the baby bee,” said Bob Romaneschi, chief pilot of the Lilly balloon. “It’s like losing a member of the family, even though it’s a balloon, it’s still part of our family.”

Joelly’s pilot, Michael Glen, posted about the stolen balloon Thursday morning, saying they woke up to their truck and trailer stolen.

The loss was hard for Glen as, for over ten years, the giant bee has allowed him to fly. The basket was designed specifically for him after he became paralyzed.

“My basket is a little bit different. It looks like a ski lift and that’s how I fly. I get transferred out of my wheelchair to that basket,” Joelly pilot Michael Glen said. “It was a pretty devastating loss because there are so many of those out there in the world.”

Sadness turned into relief soon, however, as the trailer and the baby bee were found.

“Officers made contact with the trailer and they discovered that the pieces of the balloon were in fact inside the trailer,” Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina said, “and at this point and time we knew that the truck had to be between where the trailer was located and the house that we were looking at in northwest Albuquerque.”

The truck was found off Unser Boulevard in northwest Albuquerque. As of Friday morning, there were no arrests made but detectives are following up on leads, including a possible repeat offender.