TKt48-72 in June 2012, shortly after its arrival in Jarocin. Photo Marek Ciesielski.
TKW, the preservation society based at the former loco depot at Jarocin, suffered at the hands of a scrap metal thief on 26 December. The thief targeted TKt48-72, which had been stored outside the shed, stripping elements of the braking system from the locomotive.
By chance, a society member noticed a man behaving suspiciously, and contacted the police. The police attended promptly and arrested a 52 year old man in connection with the theft. Officers found a number of parts in the grass close to the locomotive, as well as parts laid out in some of the surrounding buildings on the site, indicating that this was not the first time that parts had been removed. The man in question is already known to the police, and, if convicted, could be sentenced with up to 5 years in jail.
TKt48-72 was built in 1951 and was originally based at Bielsko Biala, and then predominantly at Jaslo. Brief interludes at Chabowka, and Nowy Sacz followed by a stint at Zielona Gora. The engine spent 24 years of its life at Kepno, before being moved to Gniezno in 2000. In 1995, it was placed on the register of historic monuments, though today it is little more than a shell with many parts missing.
The society took the locomotive under its wing in January 2013, and at present leases the locomotive from PKP.
The theft highlights the risks to the remaining redundant steam locomotives in Poland. Even those in the custody of recognised societies run the risk of being stripped of easy to remove parts if they are stored outside. Whilst TKW Jarocin takes security reasonably seriously – it does have a system of CCTV cameras installed to monitor the grounds outside the shed – like other societies it is prone to people wandering through the external grounds and helping themselves to metal.
Poland would do well to learn from the UK’s recent approach to the sale of stolen scrap metal. Since the UK banned “cash in hand” scrap metal transactions, metal (and cable) thefts have plummeted. Unless a similar approach is taken in Poland, metal thefts will continue to be a serious problem.