The Orange County Model Engineers are seeking the public's help after $7,000 to $9,000 worth of aluminum tracks and other items were stolen from the nonprofit organization's storage facility.
Thieves cut their way through a gate into the area housing the rideable trains in Costa Mesa's Fairview Park sometime between noon March 1 and 8 a.m. March 2, according to Costa Mesa police.
More than 2,000 feet of aluminum tracks and other materials were taken.
The thieves will probably try to sell the items as scrap metal, said Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott, though he was unable to offer a resale value.
"We're hoping that whoever buys aluminum will see this and hopefully report it," said Dixon Sheldon, vice president of operations for the Model Engineers, adding that "these guys must have gotten spooked because they didn't take all the aluminum that they could've."
A security specialist will be inspecting the facility this week and making recommendations, he said.
Sheldon said the Model Engineers want to install a camera security system and possibly lights with motion detectors.
The Model Engineers are asking for the public's help in replacing the stolen goods.
The group, whose donation box will be out as usual this weekend, is also seeking 40-foot cargo bins and a new soda machine.
"We work off donations," Sheldon said, "and we don't have a big bank account to do this, so any donations are appreciated."