Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Officers Set to Patrol Railways in Theft Blitz; Cable Squad to Hit Trackside Hotspots

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Officers Set to Patrol Railways in Theft Blitz; Cable Squad to Hit Trackside Hotspots

Article excerpt

Byline: Liz Walker

SPECIALIST officers will patrol Northumberland's rail lines in a blitz on the cable thieves that bring misery to train travellers.

The special operation by British Transport Police follows a rise in the number of thefts in the region.

The crime costs the railway industry millions of pounds and has a knock-on effect on the rest of the region's economy.

Large numbers of additional officers from the dedicated cable squad, Operation Leopard, will be deployed to patrol the Blyth and Tyne railway line over the next few weeks.

The officers will provide high-visibility patrols day and night in key hotspot areas on the railway network that are often targeted by criminals attempting to steal railway cable.

Detective Inspector Mick Jackson of British Transport Police, who heads up the teams, said: "We have recently seen an increase in cable theft from the railway in this area.

"Unfortunately the price of copper on world markets continues to drive the demand for cable, which has resulted in an increase in the number of incidents of cable theft on the railway.

"It's costing the industry, and the wider economy, millions of pounds and that figure is rising," he said.

"More and more culprits and scrap metal dealers are being caught, and we're pushing hard to make sure they face the toughest possible sentences in relation to this crime. We have had cable thieves badly injured and some even killed attempting to steal cable.

"Cable theft is far from a victimless crime and, aside from the cost to the industry, causes misery and major issues for countless people whose journeys - some of which could be vitally important, such as hospital appointments and flights - are hampered by the resulting delays and cancellations."

DI Jackson added: "BTP, in partnership with Network Rail, has developed a number of tactics to tackle cable and metal theft, including frequent visits to scrap metal dealers, burying and security marking cable to make it harder to steal and traceable when it is stolen, installation of CCTV cameras on the railway network and increased number of officers patrolling the lines day and night. …

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