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How long could you live in the woods? A year? 10? 30? If you have a large tax bill to pay today, disappearing into the wilderness and living off the grid may seem a little more appealing than it ever has before, but would you ever choose that kind of life? One man did make that choice and had been at it for the past 27 years, until he was arrested for stealing supplies from a Maine camp last week.

Christopher Knight, 47, is currently being held on $5,000 bail on charges of burglary and theft after tripping a surveillance sensor set up by a local game warden. Knight was detected while stealing supplies from a camp for people with special needs, but that was far from his first offense. For more than a decade, locals have told stories of thefts and cabin break-ins, giving rise to the local legend of the “North Pond Hermit.”

After leaving the Pine Tree Camp last Thursday with $280 worth of food, authorities found the campsite where they say Knight lived. The camp consisted of a tent covered by tarps for additional waterproofing. His camp also contained a bed, propane cooking stoves, a rudimentary shower and a battery-powered radio with a 30-foot antenna.

Knight’s many years of hermitage were all thanks to his methods of avoiding detection. He never had a campfire, as he knew that the light and smoke would draw unwanted attention. He only made his scavenging forays at night, returning to his camp with only a small flashlight. And he rarely left his camp during the winter months to prevent people from tracking him through the snow. Knight claims that he spent his vast amount of free time reading, meditating, and watching eagles.

Knight took to the woods in 1986, and moved around periodically until he made a permanent camp in rural Rome, Maine, in the early 1990s. He only entered civilization when he needed to steal supplies, which was always done at night.

“The first concern is he might be a flight risk,” said District Attorney Maeghan Maloney. “The second concern is the group of people who are interested in posting bail for Mr. Knight who are not from our state and not members of his family.” Knight has several local relatives, including his mother Joyce, who still lives on Pond Road where Knight grew up.

“I will remain concerned for Mr. Knight until he has an attorney helping him to navigate what is a new world to him,” Maloney said.

Since this story broke, Knight is getting more attention than he has probably had in his whole life. Someone called the jail where he’s being held with a marriage proposal this past weekend. And a man Knight didn’t know showed up Saturday night offering to pay his $5,000 bail, the Kennebec Journal reported.

What do you make of Knight? Is he a sympathetic and misunderstood character? Or is he a backwoods weirdo who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for his years of theft? Sound off in the comments.

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