Cable thieves costing £1.5m

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CABLE thieves are said to have cost the region’s train industry £1.5m in just three years.

The British Transport Police (BTP) say the North-East is a hot spot for crooks targeting signals and points to steal valuable metals that they can sell on as scrap.

National figures released by Network Rail today show that £1.5m was spent in compensation costs in the region during the last three years because of the damage caused, while more than a thousand hours of delays were recorded.

And the trend is on the increase with the number of attacks last month almost doubling compared to the same time last year.

Hartlepool Police recently launched Operation Guardian, which includes stop-checks on those entering scrap yards and working with BTP, because of the rise in metal crimes that has also seen electric sub-stations, roads and roofs being targeted.

Richard Lungmuss, route director for Network Rail, said: “Cable thieves deny passengers the service they rightly expect and, through the massive cost to the industry, deny everyone improvements to rail services.”

Detective Chief Inspector Derek O’Mara, of BTP, added: “We are determined to send a clear message that such attacks on our critical infrastructure are unacceptable and the police and rail industry are working together to tackle the problem.”

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said metal thefts is a “priority” for officers in Hartlepool.

She added: “Operation Guardian aims to bring perpetrators to justice while also raising awareness of the sometimes life-threatening consequences for not only victims but the perpetrators who risk their own lives trying to get their hands on metal.

“We will continue to work closely with partner organisations, including BTP, to reduce incidents of this nature.”

Anyone with any information about cable theft should contact BTP on 0800 405040 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Hartlepool Police can be contacted on (01642) 326326.