4 miniature trains stolen during annual Ambridge show

Friday, December 20, 2019 | 6:01 AM

Four miniature locomotives on display at this year’s Ohio Valley Lines annual holiday show were stolen from the tracks during a busy day of fundraising on Dec. 15, leaders say.

Club members noticed the locomotives, owned by four individual members, were missing shortly before closing up for the day, just before 5 p.m. The trains had a total value of about $650.

The four locomotives, which were N-Scale in size, meaning they’re less than an inch wide and at longest four to five inches in length, were on display tracks and not moving, so they’d be less likely to be seen missing, said club secretary Mike DeSensi.

“They’d fit in the palm of your hand pretty easily,” he said.

The locomotives were scattered throughout the basement area of the Ohio Valley Lines Merchant Street address in Ambridge, where all of the N-Scale trains are displayed.

The annual train show is the model train enthusiast club’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The club boasts 38 members who created a miniature replica of the region with their trains for the display. The show runs from noon to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from Thanksgiving to the first week of the new year. More than 110 people paid admissions on Dec. 15 to see the train displays.

“It’s what we work for all year,” DeSensi said.

Once club members noticed the locomotives were missing, DeSensi posted about the theft on Facebook and various buy-and-sell groups throughout the region. He called local hobby shops to notify them.

They only asked that whoever stole the miniature locomotives return them by placing them in the club’s mail box.

But on the evening of Dec. 16, the mailbox remained empty. Club members and leaders who gathered that night for a work session pulled together the details of each of the engines stolen and filed a report with Ambridge police.

In the club, there’s frustration that someone would take their treasured locomotives.

“Almost universally, everyone was angry,” DeSensi said. “We work really hard. We get a lot of positive response from visiting people. People are going to think twice about leaving their models out for display now.”

They’re going to keep a lookout in the area and online for locomotives for sale without the packaging. The locomotives taken were a Kato Burlington Route NW2, Bachmann Santa Fe S4, Bachmann New York Central S4 and Bachmann Rio Grande SD45.

In the past, club members had discussed investing in security cameras. They decided against it, as they didn’t like the idea of spying on others. Now, they’re going to revisit that idea, DeSensi said.

He’s also asked club members “to be more cognizant of what’s going on around them.”

Some members have agreed to assume roles keeping watch over the displays.