Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) are cracking down on metal cable thieves in South Yorkshire after responding to daily offences in April.
The theft of signalling cables, electric wires, and metal equipment from areas including Rotherham, Sheffield and Aldwarke has cost Network Rail over £280,000 since April 2021. As an arms-length Government body, this cost is ultimately paid by taxpayers.
The number of offences has risen in the past month as the price of copper increases, with incidents being reported daily in the first week of April. Cash trades for scrap metal are illegal without exception and subject to unlimited fines.
Network Rail and the BTP are now using new ways to catch thieves in the act, so that the criminals can be taken to court. Learning from successful prosecutions, teams are stepping up their proactive patrols and using real time surveillance techniques to monitor hotspot areas.
Olga Barannikova, Area Customer Services and Performance Manager for Network Rail, said: “The impact of railway cable theft mustn’t be underestimated. Not only does it waste taxpayers’ money and frustratingly make passengers late, but it also holds up the delivery of important freight supplies and takes key railway staff away from their work.
“We’re constantly finding new, clever ways to catch offenders, and I know that this new push with the BTP will help us to hammer home that criminal behaviour – trespass, vandalism and theft – will not be tolerated on Britain’s railway.”
PC Darren Martin from BTP’s disruption team, said: “The theft of cable from the railway is far from a victimless crime.
“It costs the rail industry millions of pounds each year, causing delays and increases in costs to projects which have a knock-on effect on passengers.
“Every day rail users feel the impact on their journeys when thieves strike and ultimately it is the tax payer who forks out.
“We continue to work with Network Rail to modernise and enhance our resources to catch cable thieves in the act – I would assure those responsible for the recent spate of cable thefts in south Yorkshire that it is only a matter of time before they are caught.”
Image credit: Network Rail