Railway copper thieves hunted as taxpayers foot £300,000 bill: Replacing cable on the West Coast main line in Staffordshire after copper thieves stole sections of it

Tuesday 15 Aug 2017

Railway copper thieves hunted as taxpayers foot £300,000 bill

London North Western

Police were today hunting thieves who have stolen more than £90,000 of copper wire from the railway in the past six weeks.

The total cost to the British taxpayer of replacing the cable currently stands at around £300,000.

It is believed the power, signalling and communications wire is being stolen to order then sold abroad as part of an international criminal enterprise.

Some 3,650 metres of copper cable has been removed in a series of thefts in Staffordshire.  

Network Rail and British Transport Police are working together and today called for the public to help catch the criminals.

Train passengers were asked to report anything suspicious on the West Coast main line between Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford.

Karl Weller, Network Rail section manager based at Stafford, said: “The cost to taxpayers of replacing the copper wire stolen in the past three weeks is approaching £300,000.

“When signalling cables are removed the signalling and telecommunication systems of the railway do not work and trains can’t run. The impact on customers will get worse if these thieves are not caught.

“If you see anything suspicious - gates left open, non-railway staff on the tracks, suspicious vehicles, fences removed and the like - while travelling on the West Coast main line and branch lines in the area, particularly between Crewe, Stoke and Stafford, please call the British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016, alternatively call Network Rail on 03457 114141.”

Chief Inspector Andrea Graham of British Transport Police said: “We are doing everything in our power to track down these criminals who are causing the travelling public delays during the busy holiday season.

“Not only is this kind of crime disruptive it is extremely dangerous for those responsible. Thousands of volts of electricity run through those cables and interfering with them can be fatal.   

“Officers are working round the clock to investigate all avenue of enquiry to identify those responsible.”

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