The theft of up to $6000 worth of engines and loss of half-a-day's business seriously make Trainworld proprietor John Burt wonder how long he can keep it all on track.
Speaking today after discovering an overnight burglary at the Napier CBD attraction, the 79-year-old pensioner said it's not the sort of business that makes money. It's quite the "labour of love", but it doesn't run at a loss, and it pays its own bills.
Thus, days like Friday are crucial to keeping it going. Cruise liner passengers are regular visitors and with the Norwegian Jewel in port with more than 2000 passengers, he lamented: "I should have been opening the door to tourists, not keeping it closed because of burglars.
"I need a good summer season, people come from all over the world to see it. I certainly don't need a burglary."
The only burglary he is aware of in its history, with at least two previous proprietors, it happened sometime between when he locked-up late on Thursday afternoon and when he arrived to open-up on Friday morning, with the first likely customers already outside.
The burglary involved an apparent significant search of the upstairs Dickens St premises, once home of 1950s and 1960s dance hall the Top Hat nightclub.
Rummaging the office, the thief or thieves took up to $600 in cash and a black metal toolbox containing the five DCC on-board engines — locomotives that make all their own noises. Also taken were a few handfuls of confectionery from a charity display Burt says is "purely a service" for his train-spotters, not a convenience for burglars.
Fortunately, the intruder or intruders barely touched Brookie the ride-on train, Thomas the Tank Engine and the historic array of collector's items and toy trainware, which includes the Lilliput collection, which dates back 70 years and which was for several years among the plethora of city council-owned attractions on Marine Parade. It also houses the former Trainworld from Rotorua.
A former second-hand book store proprietor, Burt started on the premises by moving the books into some spare retailing space.
But the interest in the trains, a childhood obsession sidetracked in the adult years, was rekindled earlier when he and his wife were in Foxton, and saw some trains in a shop.
She asked him if he was still interested in them, he said he was, and jokes now it's something she might regret ever asking.
Today, the business was closed till late-morning so that the boys from the station down the road — the police station — could see if they could find enough evidence to track an offender, but Burt was more hot on the case of the missing engines. He wants them back.
"It's one box of the most expensive stuff I have here."