Classic cars worth $106,000 stolen in Loudon County

By J.J. Stambaugh

Three vintage cars with a combined value of more than $106,000 were stolen early Thursday morning from a classic car lot in Loudon County, authorities said.

The break-in at Smoky Mountain Traders, 11840 U.S. Highway 321, took place about 5 a.m. when a group of thieves disabled the gate and drove the vehicles off the lot, according to Loudon County Sheriff's Office Detective Charlie Cosner.

"It took about a minute or less," Cosner said.

The cars were described as an orange and white 1972 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible, a red and black 1971 Chevelle Super Sport convertible, and a red and white 1972 Super Sport Chevelle, said business owner Keith Bledsoe.

"I'm sure they loaded them into an enclosed car trailer after they drove them off," Bledsoe said. "I'm hoping that someone was on U.S. 321 (Thursday) morning and saw something."

Bledsoe said he used to build houses for a living but decided to open the car lot in May when the construction industry slowed. "I put my life savings into these old cars," he said.

Bledsoe said he was able to determine the time of the break-in using a security camera but it was too early to say whether the camera's images will be useful in identifying the three suspects.

He is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the cars and the convictions of those responsible for the thefts.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to the Sheriff's Office at 865-986-4823 or the business at 865-988-8088.

A red and white 1972 Super Sport Chevelle was one ...
This red and black 1971 Chevelle Super Sport convertible was ...
The orange and white 1972 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible that ...