Network Rail has seen a 53% jump in cable theft incidents over the past year, averaging six attacks per day, as criminals target the scrap to sell on for cash.
Through 2010/11 the network lost £16.5m through cable theft and 3,000 crimes were recorded while 900 arrests were made. The theft level has been attributed to the current high value of metals. Over the past three years, the cost of cable theft has totalled almost £43m, while millions of passengers have been delayed on journeys due to infrastructure parts being stolen.
Its director of operational services Dyan Crowther said: “I cannot over-emphasis just how serious these crimes are. Cable thieves deny passengers the service they rightly expect and through the massive cost to the industry, deny everyone improvements to rail services.
“We are doing everything we can to protect the railway and will continue to work closely with British Transport Police and other rail partners to do everything in our power to deter thieves and bring those who attack our network to justice.”
The British Transport Police (BTP) hopes that tougher sentencing in the form of more significant jail terms will help deter the number of thefts. It is also using a number of methods to help catch the thieves such as using the dedicated BTP task force to increase patrols and use intelligence-led policing, additional dedicated officers put in place, as well as the use of the Network Rail helicopter, CCTV, forensic marking and special devices to protect cable.