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LONDON, England -- 

Thursday, September 4, 2003 Posted: 8:38 AM EDT (1238 GMT)
 

The steam train used in the Harry Potter films has been damaged by paint-wielding vandals, police said. 

A railway carriage pulled by the Olton Hall steam engine -- otherwise known as the Hogwarts Express in the films -- was sprayed with silver graffiti, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. 

"It is extensively damaged and has been 'tagged' with symbols. The cost has been estimated at between £2,000 and £3,000," a spokesman for British Transport Police said. 

"We are appealing for witnesses but as it occurred overnight there may not have been too many people about." 

Police said the vandals broke into the depot in Scarborough and attacked the carriage over the weekend. The historic steam engine was not stored at the depot, the spokesman said. 

The train is used in the summer months by tourists traveling between Scarborough and York. 

It is hired out to Warner Bros. for the Potter films and was used in the film "Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets." Warner Bros. is owned by CNN.com's parent company, AOL Time Warner. 

James Shuttleworth, from the West Coast Railway Company which operates the train, said the graffiti was "heartbreaking." 

"The people who did this are mindless toe rags," he said. "This will horrify the millions of Harry Potter fans."