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CAPE MAY - Authorities at the Jersey Shore said they're dealing with a mystery — and a crime — after a pilot illegally landed on a secured Coast Guard beach and then vanished. 

The incident began Sunday night when closed-circuit cameras captured the single-engine plane landing at 7:52 p.m. 

Coast Guard personnel from Training Center Cape May, along with local police, responded less than 20 minutes later. 

Authorities said the Piper PA12 is owned by a company that uses it to fly banners over the beach. The company told The Press of Atlantic City that an employee used the plane without permission.

The Coast Guard Training Center was in state of heightened security, but later resumed normal operations.

"At this point we are confident the missing pilot is not aboard the training center," said Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards, training center spokesperson. "After working with Cape May County Sheriff's Department's K-9 Unit, which indicated the pilot's scent led away from the training center, as well as physical tracks from the plane and security camera footage showing the pilot heading away from the training center itself, the command decided to resume standard security measures."

The Coast Guard said Friday afternoon that the plane was removed from the beach after its fuel was emptied and its wings were taken off. Both measures were intended to reduce any damage to the environment or wildlife, authorities said.

Multiple other agencies were involved with the response to the landing, including the Coast Guard Fire Department, Cape May County Police Department, the Coast Guard Police Department and Coast Guard Investigative Services.

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A single-engine plane landed illegally on a U.S. Coast Guard beach June 24, the Associated Press reports. There was no sign of the pilot. Video courtesy Samantha. Alex N. Gecan, @GeeksterTweets

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