'I could tell something wasn't right' - owner's woe after seafront train burglary
PUBLISHED: 17:37 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 20 July 2018
The owner of a popular seaside attraction says he is "devastated" after it was stolen from its storage facility.
Operated during the summer along Lowestoft seafront, the Thomas the Tank Engine land train went missing from a container off Kirkley Cliff Road between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning earlier this week.
Its owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he knew something was wrong when he arrived to remove the vehicle for another day of rides.
“I turned up for work as usual at about 10.45 on Tuesday morning,” he said. “As I was approaching the container where the train is stored, I could tell something wasn’t right. When I got there, I saw the locks had been broken and the train was gone.
“This is a 40ft container we’re talking about and it would have taken a 25 tonne truck with a big crane to hoist the train onto the back. Whatever vehicle was parked there has taken down a lot of branches from the nearby trees.”
The attraction, popular with local children and families as well as holidaymakers, runs up and down the South Beach seafront promenade. Passengers are ferried to and from opposite ends of the beach, with the option of hopping on at Royal Plain, Claremont Pier and Kensington Gardens.
The train initially came to the town as part of an economic regeneration plan coinciding with the completion of a £3.5 million coastal protection scheme in 2016.
“I’m devastated because we’re here to provide a service to children and families,” added the owner. “Our aim is to put smiles on kids’ faces and now we’re unable to do that.”
Police have meanwhile issued an appeal for witnesses who may have seen the burglary to come forward.
A spokesman said: “At some point between 4.30pm on Tuesday, July 17, and 10.45am on Wednesday, July 18, entry was forced to a blue shipping container located off Kirkley Cliff Road between Kensington Gardens and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.
“A large Thomas the Tank Engine land train, with two carriages and an orange canopy, was stolen from within the container.”
Anyone who witnessed suspicious behaviour in the area between the times stated should call police on 101, quoting reference number 40241/18.
‘They’ve taken people’s pleasure away’
Holidaymakers and locals alike have expressed sadness at the loss of a summertime favourite.
Chris and Alan Manley, visiting from Woodbridge, were both dismayed at the burglary of something that brings such joy.
“We’ve seen the train running along here and it’s dreadful that it’s been stolen,” said Mrs Manley, 68. “Talk about killjoys - they’ve taken people’s pleasure away and what are they going to do with it now?”
Lowestoft resident Luke Catchpole, 28, was also in shock. “It’s not exactly an easy thing to hide so it makes you wonder why anyone would take it,” he said.
“It’s such a shame for the kids, especially during the summer because there’s not going to be anything running up and down here. Anyone who comes to Lowestoft regularly will miss it.”
Katie Grimmer, 27, and also from Lowestoft, added: “I’m sad for the families and children coming here in the height of the season. It’s a moneymaker for Lowestoft, too, so it harms the town’s economy.”