Rutland City Police are investigating vandalism of a historic rail car at the Vermont Farmers Food Center after two teenagers were found sleeping in it. Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said the two boys, aged 14 and 15, were found in the car Sunday morning, apparently having spent the night there. A window on the door to the car was broken, and Kilcullen said some wires were hanging down inside, but the incident was still under investigation and it was not clear the two youths were responsible for the damage. Seat cushions were strewn about the car Wednesday, as were food wrappers and debris including what appeared to be a phone charger and audio-visual cables. "I would say the condition would indicate to me there were others there as well, not necessarily at the same time," Kilcullen said. Kilcullen said police were "familiar" with one of the two youths, but neither had been charged and both were returned to their parents. The car is owned by the city. Mayor David Allaire said he will look into how the city can recoup the damages. He said security lights had been installed around the car, but it appeared they had been pulled out so they would not activate. This was the second incident of vandalism at the VFFC in recent months — several windows were broken at the center in May by what police said appeared to be rocks thrown from the railroad tracks. Kilcullen said the culprits in that incident had not been identified and there was "no indication either way" that the youths in the rail car had been involved. The rail car was refurbished by Green Mountain Railroad Corp. and donated to the city with the understanding that certain steps would be taken for its preservation. After an original planned site at the train station fell through, the VFFC agreed to host the car and put together an enclosure to protect it from the elements. At the time of the installation, VFFC President Greg Cox described a vision for a barn-raising style effort to build the enclosure, but it has yet to happen. A design resembling an open-air train station enclosure was produced, and in 2015 the Board of Aldermen voted to kick in $33,000 from the Zamias fund — the fund created by impact fees paid to the city by Diamond Run Mall — toward the enclosure. Cox said the volunteer talent needed to build the enclosure has proven harder to assemble than he expected. "I thought I had everything in place and then it started falling apart on me," he said. "There's a lot of pieces and parts." Allaire said Wednesday his understanding was that lumber had been purchased and $21,000 of the $33,000 in funding remained. He said the city was in talks with Vermont Railway to see if it was a project they could take on so the car does not sit uncovered for another winter. "We're going to have to figure out some sort of security to keep people out of there, keep the windows covered and see if we can prevent any sort of vandalism," Allaire said. Cox, who discovered the two teenagers sleeping in the car and called police, said that on top of that and the broken windows at the center, plants were pulled out of a community garden plot in the last few days. "Kind of senseless and depressing, but, you know, it's stuff that happens," he said. "We've been there, this will be six years now. This is just a little blip." However, Cox said that "little blip" is enough to get him to look into installing security cameras. "That doesn't stop it either," he said. "It might cut it down. If the kids are 14 or so, there's nothing you can do. What can you do about stupid?" gordon.dritschilo@rutlandherald.com

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