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Wed, Oct 12, 2005

One Arrested In Case Of Stolen Jet

22-Year Old Man Charged With Theft, Reckless Conduct

A 22-year old Georgia man was arrested Wednesday, accused of stealing a Cessna Citation and taking it from St. Augustine, FL, to Gwinnett County Airport/Briscoe Field. Police described the incident as a "joy-ride."

Daniel Andrew Wolcott was jailed on $175,000 bond and faces federal charges in addition to the six state charges filed by police in Georgia on Wednesday.

"Investigators made contact with five individuals who came forward and gave statements of being on the plane when Wolcott flew it," Gwinnett County Police spokesman Darren Moloney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "They were just enjoying the ride," he said. None of the passengers were charged along with Wolcott.

Wolcott, a commercial pilot, wasn't rated to fly the $7 million Citation VII, Moloney said. "But apparently is a talented and gifted pilot." The young pilot was a frequent visitor to Briscoe Field, he said, occasionally working odd jobs there.

The aircraft apparently landed after the Gwinnett County field closed for the night on Sunday, he said. The six men on board appeared to have walked off the plane and away from the airport without being noticed. The Citation was finally spotted Monday morning by an airport employee.

"This is such an odd occurrence, I wouldn't even want to speculate why someone would do this," airport manager Matt Smith told the Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

"I would just encourage increased vigilance at the various airports and the companies that have these aircraft to ensure better security," FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett told the Atlanta paper. "I don't think it requires any systems changes or anything."

The Citation VII has a lock on the door, but Moloney said it wouldn't have been very difficult to defeat it if someone really wanted to get inside.

The owners of the aircraft, Pinnacle Aviation of St. Augustine, wouldn't comment on the theft, but were reportedly cooperating closely with police.

FMI: www.gwinnettcountyairport.com

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