Oregon couple thrilled with recovery of model train business

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OGDEN — It wasn't exactly the great train robbery, but an Oregon couple nearly lost their entire model train business while visiting Utah.

"It was such a shock, neither of us could comprehend it," said Blanche Keller, who has spent the past two decades building the business with her husband.

"Why would someone take this?" she wondered.

Blanche and her husband, Normon Keller, spent Wednesday night carefully sorting through more than 4,000 model train parts in a garage in Ogden, trying to get all of the pieces in the right containers.

"It doesn't make sense, none of it does," Blanche said. "But hey, we got it back. I suppose that's the main thing."

The couple likes to hit the road for model train shows. They were staying at a Motel 6 in Ogden before heading to a show in Denver, when their business and their passion was nearly derailed.

They call the business Electric Norman. They sell train parts and accessories, and all of the homes, animals and other scenery that go into a model train world.

"We put everything in the trailer, and I mean everything," Blanche said.

On Friday, the Kellers were staying at Motel 6, 1455 Washington. They were between model train shows in Denver and Sandy.

While at the motel, somebody hauled away their trailer with 4,500 model train parts inside. The theft essentially shut down their entire business.

They were dejected when the trailer was stolen, and didn't think they'd ever see it, or their business inside, ever again.

Police told Blanche and Norman the thieves must have thought there were power tools in the trailer because it resembles a construction trailer.

Investigators set up surveillance and spotted some stolen parts at houses in Ogden and North Ogden. Tuesday, they recovered the stolen parts and the trailer after catching a man trying to paint the trailer black.

All of the the parts had been dumped out of the plastic storage bins. So, Blanche and Norman still have a lot of sorting to do.

"At this point, we're back," Norman said. "I'm hoping we can pull it all together."

While the model train industry isn't a big money business, people like the Kellers love it. Many of the parts they stock and sell aren't even made anymore.

"It's taken a while to build up, and thank God we've been able to save what we have, and we'll move on," Norman said.

As for the thieves, Blanche said she "could never understand the mentality of stealing something from someone anyway. I mean, why? You're too lazy to get a job like everyone else in the world? I mean, come on guys."

No arrests have been made in the case yet, and the investigation is ongoing.

The Kellers are grateful to the police and happy they can make it to their next show, which will take place in Sandy this weekend.


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Jed Boal and Pat Reavy


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