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Lights, camera, vandalism

Masterton Miniature Train Society vice-president Barry Stroud. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

Masterton Miniature Train Society trying to catch camera-shy vandals

Two men were caught on camera loitering at the miniature train station on Friday night. Until they smashed its screen, that is.

Masterton Miniature Train Society vice-president Barry Stroud said while the incident was inconvenient, it wasn’t the worst which had happened at the station.

“I’d count that as lucky,” the station master said, “the whole idea was to protect the station from vandalism, and, in a way, it’s worked.”

Before the cameras were installed, the station was prone to graffiti.

“We were [re]painting a couple of times a week at one stage,” he said.

“The last incident we had, somebody ripped the camera off the wall.”

Two years ago Stroud posted a video on the Masterton Miniature Train Society’s Facebook page of someone attacking the security camera with a knife.

The video led to the person being identified and convicted.

He posted a video of the most recent attack on the society’s Facebook page on Tuesday night.

“Last time, it was the only way to get them identified,” he said.

Police had been advised of the incident, but Stroud said it was “understandably” not one of their priorities.

Stroud checked the video footage after he arrived at the station and saw the smashed camera.

“The loss of feed and the hole in the camera were a bit of a giveaway,” he said.

“Then you go around the track and check everything.”

He was “ecstatic” when he realised neither the station nor the train had been damaged, although both were “pretty robust”.

More people were coming to Queen Elizabeth Park at night because of the “spectacular” Christmas lights, he said, but the light saturation also decreased the quality of the security footage.

“I think the lights are great,” Stroud said.

“Which is also what encourages people to hang around at night.”

As the grandstand in Queen Elizabeth Park was also prone to graffiti, Stroud wondered whether an overall security camera system should be installed to cover both the park and the station.

“What I would really like is for all the cameras to be linked,” he said.

The society was “well supported by the community and council”, but, as it was a non-profit, any vandals were depriving the community.

“It’s happened before, it’ll happen again, but it does make me question…”

While it hoped the vandals would be found, the society was preparing for the Masterton Christmas parade.

“The whole community will come together, and it’ll be great. I’m really looking forward to it,” Stroud said.

“Our focus is on the community.”

He confirmed ticket fares would not increase to cover the cost of replacing the cameras.

“It’s a bit disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world.”

  • If you have information on this incident, call police number 105.

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