An official with Gulf & Ohio Railways Inc. said the culprits probably hope to sell the 22,000 pounds of steel. But a new state law may make the sale of the stolen metal difficult. The state General Assembly passed a law in 2009 prohibiting the sale of scrap metal without proof of ownership.
Peter "Doc" Claussen, Gulf and Ohio vice president, estimated that it took the thieves more than eight hours to cut and remove the rails.
"Scrap merchants are forbidden from buying railroad property without a letter of authorization," Claussen said. "So they can't even sell the metal. All that work and it probably was for nothing."
Claussen said some empty train cars traveling on the track Wednesday morning were derailed by the missing tracks. No one was injured in the incident, which occurred at about 10 a.m., but the damage to the train was estimated at about $100,000.
Officials with the Department of Homeland Security have been notified of the incident.
The railroad is also offering a $1,000 reward for information about the crime.