Thieves spirit away £14,000 tak­ings

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - ANNA LEWIS Re­porter [email protected]­line.co.uk

AHERITAGE rail­way run by vol­un­teers had £14,000 stolen af­ter a Hal­loween event. Mem­bers of Pon­ty­pool and Blae­navon Rail­way have been left dev­as­tated af­ter thieves made away with two days’ tak­ings af­ter the char­ity’s busiest week of the year.

Di­rec­tor Alex Hin­shel­wood said the break-in hap­pened af­ter a four­day spe­cial Hal­loween event saw 4,000 peo­ple go through its doors.

He said: “It’s a very strange sit­u­a­tion for us to be hav­ing that sort of money any­way.

“If we took that sort of money every day we would have a con­trac­tor to pick it up but it was very much a one­off as our trea­surer wasn’t there.

“Hal­loween is our big mon­ey­mak­ing event be­fore we shut down for the win­ter. Each of the 4,000 peo­ple would have been able to take a look around the place.”

Vol­un­teers at the rail­way raised the alarm on Thurs­day morn­ing af­ter notic­ing dam­age to the sta­tion’s win­dow and door.

Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent and are ask­ing any­one with in­for­ma­tion to come for­ward.

Mr Hin­shel­wood said: “One of the guys started tak­ing the light­ing down and no­ticed the build­ing had been bro­ken into. The whole safe had been ripped out of the ground, they didn’t break into the safe, they took it.”

The break-in fol­lows af­ter a month’s prepa­ra­tion ahead of the rail­way’s four ghost train runs.

The rail­way di­rec­tor said: “We started set­ting up for Hal­loween at the end of Septem­ber. For each ghost train there are 50 vol­un­teers tak­ing an­nual leave to help. The vol­un­teers are ab­so­lutely gut­ted.”

Since the in­ci­dent the rail­way has thanked the pub­lic for an “over- whelm­ing” re­sponse. So far more than £4,600 has been raised to help the char­ity re­place the stolen money.

Mr Hin­shel­wood said: “We are just ab­so­lutely over­whelmed by the re­sponse. Peo­ple are dig­ging deep and help­ing us out.

“We have had a con­tin­u­ous stream of lo­cal busi­nesses who have of­fered raf­fle prizes and have asked what they can do to help. Ev­ery­one has ral­lied around. We have af­fil­i­a­tions with rail­ways through­out the coun­try and have seen do­na­tions from peo­ple in New­cas­tle, York­shire, all over.

“We have lost our prof­its for the two days but at the end of the day noone was hurt and that’s the most im­por­tant thing.”

A spokes­woman for Gwent Po­lice said: “At ap­prox­i­mately 10.10am on Thurs­day Novem­ber 1, we re­ceived a re­port of a bur­glary at The Rail­way Sta­tion, Garn Lakes in Blae­navon.

“Some­time be­tween 10pm on Oc­to­ber 31 and 9.45am on Novem­ber 1 en­try was gained via force to a door and a sil­ver steel safe was stolen. The safe had been bolted to the wall and the floor and had cash in­side to the es­ti­mated value of £12,000 to £14,000.

“At this time in­quiries are on­go­ing and any­one with in­for­ma­tion is asked to please call 101 quot­ing log 189 01/11/18 or Crimestop­pers anony­mously on 0800555111.”

The ghost train at Pon­ty­pool and Blae­navon her­itage rail­way re­ceived 4,000 vis­i­tors over four days

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