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Thieves target Kent and East Sussex Railway's Wittersham Road station

By Rachael Woods

Sickened railway staff are counting their losses after thieves de-activated security cameras and helped themselves to equipment.

The incident at the Kent & East Sussex Railway’s Wittersham Road station, has left the volunteer-run service, which is a registered charity, thousands of pounds out of pocket.

General manager Shaun Dewey is appealing for the public’s help after three generators were stolen during the break-in last Monday.

Damage to the tamping machine where glass covered by plastic was smashed to gain entry to the cab above
Damage to the tamping machine where glass covered by plastic was smashed to gain entry to the cab above

Mr Dewey said a mess hut had been broken into and the camera and security key pad ripped out.

The equipment has a motion sensor, which enables an outside security firm to detect activity on the tracks.

He believes the railway’s security was breached just before 8.15pm last Monday, as that was the time the cameras were de-activated.

Once disabled the thieves took three generators, a Bosch grinder in a carry case and several drums of white domestic wire.

The incident happened at the Wittersham Road Station. Picture: Gary Browne
The incident happened at the Wittersham Road Station. Picture: Gary Browne

The cab window of a huge tamping machine that is used for track maintenance was broken and the contents of the driver’s cab scattered onto the ground.

During the rampage a mess coach, used by the permanent way staff to keep their tools and personal possessions had its window broken and staff lockers were forced open.

The losses also included 12 paraffin-burning signal lamps, large and small.

Mr Dewey said: “This is just another example of wilful damage to the railway.

Damage to the tamping machine where glass covered by plastic was smashed to gain entry to the cab above
Damage to the tamping machine where glass covered by plastic was smashed to gain entry to the cab above

"It’s terrible because they [the thieves] were just looking for anything that might be of value.

"As an overall picture what they took is not very expensive but it’s of high value to the railway because the equipment is necessary for it to conduct its business.

“We are a charity and our volunteers put in a tremendous number of hours of work to make the railway what it is.

"This is just nothing but a kick in the teeth for all they do. We do everything we can to keep the railway secure."

The mess coach where windows were smashed and lockers forced open
The mess coach where windows were smashed and lockers forced open

“If any member of the public has any information that can help us find the people responsible then please get in touch with the police.”

He added: “We do everything we can to keep the railway secure but we are a charity and we can’t turn it into Fort Knox.”

Last July vandals breached railway defences and wrecked a carriage on an historic steam train at Tenterden station, where the 1926 Pullman car Theodora was berthed. A small amount of alcohol and petty cash was taken.

It prompted a fundraising appeal that helped to repair the damaged carriage, which is currently undergoing routine maintenance on its roof.

Inspector Jason Atkinson said of the break-in: “These generators would have been extremely heavy and is likely to have required at least two people and a van to move them.

“We would ask any residents who noticed anything suspicious in the area during these times or who may have been passing and has dashcam footage to contact us on 01843 222289 quoting reference 46/33354/19.”

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