Saturday, May 14, 2011

UK: Thieves target model trains from Railworld site

The Evening Telegraph, Peterborough, UK: Thieves target model trains from Railworld site
VOLUNTEERS have been left heart-broken after a collection of rare model trains worth more than £2,000 were stolen in a raid in Peterborough.

Thieves struck at Railworld, in Oundle Road, taking 29 model locomotives and leaving behind £200 worth of damage.

The raid took place between 9.15pm on May 5 and 5pm on May 6 and was discovered by a member of staff opening the unit.

Manager John Turner said his “heart sank” when he heard about the burglary, saying it was a blow to all the volunteers who help keep the organisation going.

He said: “It has been very upsetting for our volunteers who spend their time and effort working to improve exhibits for the visitors’ enjoyment.”

The models were part of a 40-train exhibition outlining the evolution of the locomotive, with replicas of steam, diesel and electric type engines.

They had been tied to a length of track and the offenders cut or, in some cases, wrenched the exhibits from their settings.

Some of those models left behind bare the scars of an attempted theft with broken wheels or cracks along their surface.

They also broke the display case which contained them that had been handmade by one of the volunteers.

The exhibition was installed two years ago and had been a popular hit among visitors.

The trains are “OOgauge” scale, the most popular scale for railway modelling in the UK and the scale-of-choice for Hornby Railways.

Examples of locomotives taken by the thieves include the Lafayette, Mallard, Queen Mary and Virgin Voyager.

The majority of the models, which are valued at up to £70 each, have been donated to Railworld over the period of 10 years.

Mr Turner said: “That’s another blow because the majority were donated to us to display for visitors.

“We actually had a donation last week that was going to go in the case, but that’s a bit pointless now.”

He said he holds out little hope of re-creating the exhibition especially given some are no longer available to buy.

He said: “I personally do not think we can re-start the time-line, unless someone donates a load more locomotives.

“It could take another 10 years of donations to build it up again. We have not got £2,000 spare to buy the trains.”

Mr Turner says the organisation is no stranger to such crime and has vowed to fight on without the collection if they cannot be retrieved.

He said: “It’s one part of our exhibition but the show will go on. I think this is the 190th crime we have reported since we opened in 1993.

“We’re not going to let it stop us.”

Anyone with information about the burglary should call Cambridgeshire Police on 0345 456 4564 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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