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· DT
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QUOTE (Norwich Evening News 24)Have crooks offered you my models?
15 July 2005 12:16

Model enthusiast Rick Hartley has spent 40 years building his impressive collection of miniature trains.

But today he was counting the cost after burglars stole £20,000 worth of trains and carriages during a break-in at his South Norfolk home.

Five hundred trains and carriages were stolen leaving him with gaping holes in his collection, which was arranged according to the years the items were made.

The thieves took items, which were made by Hornby, Lima and Bachman, from 1988 to 1994 and 2002 to 2005.

Mr Hartley, of Carleton Rode, said: "It would take 50 years to replace the ones taken. You can't just buy them again. It takes a long time to source these things. A lot of them are irreplaceable."

They were still in their original boxes and some had never been opened.

Mr Hartley hopes someone may contact police if they are offered any of the rolling stock in suspicious circumstances.

One of the runaway trains he has asked people to be particularly on the lookout for is a Hornby Mallard Live Steam set, which sells for about £500 in high street stores.

The theft occurred in the early hours of last Thursday morning when burglars broke into a secure storage area and a garage adjoining Mr Hartley's home.

He was in the house at the time with his seven-month-old baby.

Mr Hartley, 44, said: "I think it was chance. I don't think they were stolen by enthusiasts. They were probably looking for normal outhouse items and then found it was Christmas Eve."

There was heavy rainfall at the time of the break-in and he thinks this aided the crooks.

"The rain gave them the perfect cover," he added.

The gang are thought to have used at least two vehicles, one of which is believed to have been a twin wheel type vehicle.

Anyone with any information should contact Det Con Mark Doyle at Norwich CID on 0845 4564567 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

A couple of points:

If you have a collection of trains, cars or planes, you should have then photographed so if they turn up, you can prove proof of ownership. There are ways of marking your treasured collection from engraving to using invisible or UV sensitive ink. The photos also help when calculating a value for the collection.

If you think that you collection is worth quite a bit, ask your insurance company or adviser if it should be itemized and insured separately from the general household items.
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