OGDEN — The Grinch struck early this year. Thieves in Ogden probably didn't know what they were stealing, but 4500 parts for model trains are now missing in action.
As Christmastime crime tragedies go, this may not be the worst you ever heard. But for those who love model trains, it's a low-blow.
If you've ever heard that lonesome whistle blow in your own basement, then you may be the kind of customer Norman Keller does business with.
"It's not a very lucrative business, but it's a very enjoyable business for people," said Norman Keller who owns Electric Norman.
Along with his wife, Keller travels the country, visiting electric train shows and selling parts and accessories, everything from tiny cows to smoke for the locomotives.
Somebody ripped off pretty much his entire inventory.
"It's a tragedy, in essence," Keller said. "We do this because we love to see the smiles on people's faces."
He lives in Oregon but was staying at a motel in Ogden between model train shows in Denver and Sandy. Somebody hauled away a trailer full of 4500 parts that normally occupy a table 48 feet long.
"We're dead in the water," Keller said. "And the truth is there are a lot of people that are going to be very disappointed."
Electric Norman is one of only seven companies that make and sell model train parts. Now, with Christmas just over the horizon, their stash of parts is wiped out by thieves.
"They're the Grinch of Christmas, in essence, since we were trying to be that happy person," he said.
So where would a thief go to sell model train parts? Electric Norman says they'd never be able to do it without exposing themselves. So his message to the crooks is, why not give it up now? Just drop the trailer off somewhere, forget about it, and let the smiles begin.