It’s been one thing after another for David Paradeau, the owner of the once-famed Minnesota Zephyr.
After selling the land the dinner train once served more than 1 million meals on to the Minnesota DNR for the development of the Browns Creek State Trail, Paradeau has been unable to sell the dinner trains—and struggles to find a safe place to store them.
This week, vandalism and theft exacerbated those issues into a literal train wreck.
Paradeau told Stillwater police this week that four large locomotive train engine batteries were stolen,--and the two trains that were recently moved from city property back to the Stillwater Depot—were damaged.
The theft and damage is estimated to be $2,600, according to a police report. Police have no suspects at this time, but the case remains an active investigation.
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According to police, the theft was noticed by one of Paradeau’s employees who has been working to clean up the area.
When the employee showed up to work Tuesday morning, he noticed footprints and tire tracks in fresh snow.
Then he saw that four batteries—each weighing about 350 pounds—were stolen.
The thieves reportedly cut a door on the bottom of the trains open, cut wires and cables to steal the batteries.
Police also noted damage to the steel door on the bottom of another train, but the batteries were still intact.