JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The Star Express Barrel Train is missing, and the owners are asking for help getting it back.
They reached out to Contact7 after the hand-built train was stolen earlier this month.
Dylan Starkey said the train was locked up inside a trailer, which had been parked in a secure lot near South Kipling and West Belleview.
He said the thief apparently compromised several locks and hitched the trailer to a pickup.
On Jan. 2, security cameras caught the getaway pickup — which appeared to be a pickup with black rims — leaving True Value RV & Boat Storage, with the trailer in tow.
Labor of love
Starkey said he spent a lot of time and effort building the train with his father.
"It was one-of-a-kind," he said. "We can't rebuilt it."
The 26-year-old said the train had been a dream of his father, who is ill, for many years.
"He used plastic barrels and a good old-fashioned jig saw," Starkey said. "He put the template on top of the barrel, drew a line, cut it out, and made sure everything was lined up appropriately."
Once the father-son team figured out how to do one barrel, they used the same template to move onto the next barrel.
"It was a lot of fun," Starkey said. "It took about six months. We focused on safety."
When asked about the locomotive, Starkey said it was a Troy-Bilt riding lawn mower that had enough power to pull adults uphill without a problem.
He said the lawn mower was in the same trailer as the barrel cars.
Starkey and his parents would take the Star Express to several family-oriented events, including the "Red, White and You" celebration at Clement Park.
"The kids loved the train," said Barb Starkey, his mother. "It would start getting dark and people would say, 'Oh, can't you just go one more time, one more time?' And we'd have to just shut it down."
Dylan said the kids would cry when their parents tried to get them out of the barrel.
"They absolutely loved it," he said.
It's clear that this was far more than just a theft of plastic barrel cars and a lawn mower. It was also the loss of a piece of the family's heart.
"This last week has been pretty hard," Barb said, her voice choking with emotion. "We've just been letting the loss settle in a bit, and it's been hard."
She said she is hopeful that viewers will recognize the pickup shown in one photo pulling their trailer, and in another photo gassing up at King Soopers, and will call police.
If you've seen the pickup or the Star Express Barrel Train, or know their whereabouts, call the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office at 303-277-0211.