People in a Staffordshire village have been left "speechless" after a valuable railway station sign was stolen.
Clive Baker, who grew up in Horninglow and is one of the people leading the restoration of Rolleston's former rail station, along with the parish council, said that the "nasty reality" of the situation was setting in.
Mr Baker, of South Street, Rolleston, believes it was stolen on either the night of Tuesday, January 30, or Wednesday, January 31, after his wife Rosemary noticed it was missing early in the morning on Thursday, February 1.
The sign had been donated to the project in November by a pair of regular walkers along the Jinny Nature Trail, which passes the former railway station.
It was part of a community project to restore the former station, which kicked into gear in 2013 and with the help of a £7,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014.
Opened on November 1, 1894 and closing in 1949, the station had served as part of the Tutbury to Burton line for the beloved Tutbury Jinny.
Mr Baker, who has been campaigning to restore the station since 2009, said: "We were aware of the possible value of the sign and we told the people who gave it to us 'are you sure you want to display this in a public place?' but they insisted.
"It is still a nasty reality when it happens.
"So many people use the Jinny Trail and appreciate what we have done.
"There have been a lot of sympathetic comments coming back since we reported it was stolen on social media, one man said he was speechless.
"The community really seems to be shocked and angered by the theft.
"We do know there is often nighttime activity on the site, just this morning we picked up another few beer cans, it is never too much or as bad as other areas in the village, but there is definitely activity at the station after dark - which is when it must have been taken."
Mr Baker said that the sign had spent many years in a Rolleston garage after serving its function on a railway, possibly in Burton or Tutbury, on the approach to goods shed or similar storage building.
He says it is an item which people would collect, such signs fetching high prices at auctions and sales. The people who donated the sign, being regular walkers along the Jinny Nature Trail, were made aware of its value, but insisted that it should be displayed at the station for the pleasure of others.
Posting in the Rolleston-on-Dove Railway Station Facebook page, the plea for people to help find the sign has been shared nearly 100 times.
The post urges anyway who may have spotted the sign being removed or anyone carrying a large piece of metal to come forward.
It reads: "STOLEN !!! This sign (which was kindly donated) has been stolen, from Rolleston-on-Dove/Jinny Nature Trail Please notify us if you spotted the sign being removed, or someone carry a large piece of metal away, or know of it's whereabouts. Please share."
The post is accompanied by a picture of the sign and one of Clive and Rosemary stood next to it.
Staffordshire police have been informed of the incident, but do not have any lines of inquiry so far.
Members of the public are asked to call police on the 101 non-emergency number and quote incident 691 of February 1 if they have further information.