Thieves steal historic locomotive bell. Crime No JA 14266
On Tuesday 25th March at around 7.53 am, thieves broke into a South Devon Railway storage container at Buckfastleigh station and stole the historic and unique large, brass warning bell from veteran steam loco No.1369.
The bell was first fitted to the engine in 1960 when working the Weymouth Quay branch boat trains in order to warn pedestrians and road users of the train's sedate approach through the streets of the town.
The bell was separated from the loco for many years after the engine then moved to Cornwall, but it was offered for sale at auction around ten years ago and was then bought by the SDR Association for £900 to reunite the pair once again.
It is believed the thieves were disturbed by the early arrival for work of staff as our engineering workshop CCTV at Buckfastleigh shows an unknown shadowy figure moving around at 07.53.
The thieves used a wheelbarrow from the shed to make off with their booty, which also included an air operated needle gun and an electric drill belonging to 5542 Loco Group, but they left an angle grinder in the abandoned barrow half way across the yard which they presumably could not carry whilst making their escape.
Ironically, the bell had been removed from the engine by SDR staff for safekeeping over the Winter and before the loco left the same day for a hire period at the Chinnor & Princess Risborough Railway.
The large bell was stored in a very secure sea container.
Devon & Cornwall Police have been informed and a SOCO (Scene Of Crime Officer) has attended, allocating the Crime Number JA 14266. If anyone has any information or is offered the bell for sale, they should contact Devon & Cornwall Police by phoning 101 and quoting the above reference.
We have also spoken to local scrap dealers should anyone try to weigh it in -- it is unknown at this time if the theft was opportunistic or, more worryingly, to order.