LONDON, ONT. -- Some suspected would-be thieves found out the hard way that removing a cast iron fence is a lot harder than it looks.

King Street residents Kate and Joseph O’Neil had their hearts broken when they woke up Monday morning and found the antique fence that they had saved and restored over several decades lying broken on the ground.

“I cried,” said Kate “I had fought for 40 years to save that fence.”

The fence was assembled in four sections, each weighing about 600 pounds, and anchored into the ground. The couple believes someone tried to steal it but gave up when found out how heavy it is.

The fence had been saved from the former Sacred Heart Monastery on Queens Avenue where Catholic Central Secondary School is currently located.

The O’Neils' son, Joe O’Neil Jr., a well-known London history buff, said the monastery represented the first religious order in London.

“The top of the fence looks like the French fleur de lis. It’s a takeoff on that, and that represents the French influence. Most of the early Catholic history in this area you’ll see early signs of French influence everywhere. The fence itself though [it's] at least 150 years old, maybe older. They didn’t keep records."

The O’Neils estimate they have invested about $10,000 into the restoration of the fence, including sand-blasting and repainting.

But if would-be thieves thought they might be able to make some quick cash, they would have been disappointed, according to scrap metal dealer Charlie Gelinas of Specialized Recycling.

“It’s utterly stupid. It’s not even worth anything as scrap. I mean who knows? We’re certainly not dealing with a rocket-scientist there, even if that’s what they were trying to do."

London police said they received a report about the fence, but there are no suspects. And while the home is located across the road from the rear of London police headquarters, there is no surveillance video of the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to give police a call.

Meanwhile, the O’Neils said they still haven’t decided whether to repair it and put it back up.

“Every time we try we get kicked back like this, and I’m kind of just really disillusioned with it all," Kate said.