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Burglar damages Dundalk holiday train garden

The Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum's building was broken into last week, and the burglar badly damaged the group's holiday train garden.

The historical society's alarm sounded at 1:45 a.m. Friday, and police and volunteers who responded found that the train garden's mountain scene had been toppled onto a lower deck, which led to a collapsed railroad bridge at the center of the garden, said Michael Andy, the historical society's train garden chairman.

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A window also had been broken. Twice earlier in the week, windows were broken at the historical society.

Cpl. John Wachter, a Baltimore County Police spokesman, confirmed that the society, at 4 Center Place, had been burglarized Friday and had windows broken on Dec. 28 and 29, but couldn't provide any details.

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Andy said it appeared the burglar or burglars got partway into the building and perhaps were spooked off when the alarm sounded. In addition to the damage to the train garden, an antique wooden radio, a cast-iron potbelly stove and a shelving unit behind the train garden were damaged, he said.

"It's hard to tell what the motive would be to do something like this," Andy said. "The whole garden could have been destroyed."

Andy couldn't estimate the dollar value of the damage done to the train garden, which is viewed by more than 5,000 visitors each holiday season. For now, the building's windows are boarded up. The county, which owns the building, already had plans to replace the windows, Andy said.

Andy said the historical society won't let the break-in dampen their spirit for the holidays.

"We already have big plans to make a comeback next year," he said.

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