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 Post subject: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 7:20 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 5:41 pm
Posts: 238
Location: Colfax,WI
Final rail car moves at the Annandale, MN site should wrap up over the next two months. There have been recurring thefts there throughout the winter. So far thieves have stolen large amounts of 90 pound rail and OTM, a set of semi truck bogies designed to move rail cars, a 2' gauge brick car, 12" track sections,a Baker heater, a couple of caboose stoves, passenger car brake parts, a lubricator, dynamo, a header for a steam engine, passenger car steps, three baggage carts, truss rods, and other misc. parts. What they haven't stolen was the heavy steel scrap that was on the site. It appears some "rail fans" are setting up shop as suppliers. If anyone knows of a site in the WI/MN area that has started recently or expanded in the last year, please PM me with info. The Colfax RR Museum, North Freedom and Iron Horse Central have all suffered significant losses.

Herb Sakalaucks
Colfax Railroad Museum

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Colfax Railroad Museum


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:17 am
Posts: 64
Location: Rocky Hill, NJ
Believe it or not the scrap industry is (or Can be) your friend. the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries maintains a clearing house for stolen material http://scraptheftalert.com/

I didn't see anything which looked like what you have listed so I suggest having your local police post the list of stolen material and pictures.

Many of us in the industry subscribe to this service and there have been some significant recoveries as a result but the material needs to be listed for the system to work. if your museum, tourist line, short line or what ever has a theft which could be for scrap get it listed here 90 lb rail and the bogies are hard to mistake for something else. Even if as you are suggesting it is actually for reuse you significantly increase the likelihood of somebody seeing it and picking up the phone.


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:20 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 5:41 pm
Posts: 238
Location: Colfax,WI
We have circulated photos/descriptions to the scrap yards in the region. It appears that these are not scrap thieves, but somebody stealing to resell to the collecting or restoration community. We are looking for leads for "new", probably private, restoration operations in the region that might be availing themselves of the opportunity to acquire cheap parts.

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Colfax Railroad Museum


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:36 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1833
Location: Youngstown, OH
You just don't load up 90 lb. rail in your pickup, or even on your car hauler trailer. 33' or 39' lengths require semis.

Judging by the amount of materials stolen, they were there for quite a long while on multiple occasions. Nothing deters thieves like a regular presence on site. Frequent site visits sends notice that the stuff is being watched over, and also increases the likelihood of catching them red handed.

A $200 well hidden trail camera is also a great thing to have on site.

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:23 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2226
IRM has their cams online, some security systems do not cost that much at all. I agree some visitors might be eyeballing wonderous things to grab later....


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 2:03 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 7:54 pm
Posts: 62
Trail cams are decent, but by then it'll be too late. Night images will also be fuzzy and difficult to identify.

When copper started disappearing from Amtrak F40 #231, we set up an infrared night-vision camera that records as well as sends live images via text messaging upon motion detection. It paid off as these individuals also took a shotgun to the cab in an attempt to gain entry, but by that time the police showed up and put the cuffs on. The live alert was instrumental in having the individuals caught red-handed, and the video was important documentation to have for the court.

Sure, $20k of copper is missing and we've got a shattered windshield, but it sure was nice to have these suspects tried and convicted.

Video of F40 copper thieves.

The camera used in the aforementioned video.


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:37 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:17 am
Posts: 64
Location: Rocky Hill, NJ
The advantage of going to scraptheftalert.org is that the bolos go beyond just the local yards to anyone who might be interested. It works in both directions. If you (meaning a museum or tourist line or for that matter an equipment broker) are offered material which feels a bit bonky you can check it against the database.

I'd rather catch the guys in the act too but we're talking about material which has already walked and I don't know of any commercial camera system which operates through a temporal wormhole.


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:11 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1833
Location: Youngstown, OH
It should be generally understood that once the stuff is gone, the stuff isn't coming back. The key is to keep it on the property in the first place and in its original condition. I've prosecuted scrap thieves before, and even after getting some of the stuff back we still lost out. Trail cameras let you know what perp looks like and when he was there, information useful in staking out the place to catch them in the act. Wireless cameras are a step above as they work in real time, but can be expensive to purchase and operate.

I checked out the jablocom website. The US isn't in the dropdown list for availability. I am sure there has to be a domestically available wireless based system available.

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:19 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1541
When an inactive commercial complex begins to be salvaged and cleared, it sends a signal that people are suddenly free to help themselves to items under the rationalization that it is going to get “thrown away” anyway.

So the beginning of salvage operations must be accompanied by stepped up security presence, fencing, and very bold signage.


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:33 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1173
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Intrusion alarms are useful for immediate detection of break ins to enclosed areas-even more so if you can get a direct link to the local law enforcement agency.

Security has it's costs, but the intention is loss prevention. The money spent on security looks like nothing compared to the potential financial losses from theft or vandalism. TVRM had several cameras at the Grand Junction station that were installed as a comprehensive security system. Visitors were under video surveillance from the moment that they drove onto the property until they drove off. Of the cameras I remember, one was focused on the driveway at the grade crossing at the top of the driveway. Another was focused on the walkway from the parking lot to the front door. The front door was covered both externally and internally. Two additional cameras monitored the platform from each end. Two more cameras were located in the waiting room and one was located in the gift shop. The building had a separate intrusion alarm monitored by the alarm company and the security equipment was located in a secure office to which only three individuals had access.

As I recall, much or all of the video equipment was acquired at reduced cost. Installation was done by skilled volunteers-the gentleman who led the effort was retired United States Air Force-Strategic Air Command. He had been a missile command officer, so he had a good working knowledge of security analysis. He also used our non-profit status to convince the equipment supplier to give us the equipment virtually at cost. We should remember that some businesses have programs that they use to provide aid to community organizations. It never hurts to ask-the worst that they can do is say no and sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing Thefts at the Minnesota & Western
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 7:54 pm
Posts: 62
Hot Metal wrote:
I checked out the jablocom website. The US isn't in the dropdown list for availability. I am sure there has to be a domestically available wireless based system available.



It's available here, just need to import the right parts and purchase an unlimited data sim card, which we did through T-Mobile. Worked great since it sent SMS images right after an intruder alert, including curious sparrows.


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