Cable thieves cause First Capital Connect delays

SEVERE disruption was caused on the Thameslink rail line recently when thieves targeted cabling.

British Transport Police (BTP) is now appealing for information about the incidents in Harpenden and Radlett as well as another attempted theft on the London Midland line.

The incidents took place over the course of a week in the early hours of the morning and caused significant delays to rail services and misery for many First Capital Connect (FCC) passengers.

On Saturday, March 19, BTP received a report that around 250 yards of earthing cable had been taken near to Crabtree Lane in Harpenden at an estimated cost of around �500. The theft is believed to have taken place after checks were carried out the previous Thursday.

Then on Friday, March 25, thieves attempted to strike again just 12 miles away in Radlett. Just before 2am, BTP officers were called to the station after staff reported people acting suspiciously in the area. Officers found that cable had been cut but none was stolen.

In a similar incident the previous day (March 24) cabling was also cut in the Berkhamsted area, causing significant delays on the London Midland line at the height of the morning rush hour.

Detective constable Michael Hatcher, the investigating officer, said: “The act of stealing cable is an extremely dangerous crime which is costly to the rail industry and to the thousands of passengers who rely on the rail network.

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“In this area, the cables do not contain copper; they are solely aluminium and have a practically worthless sell-on value. I’m now appealing for anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area, or who has any information regarding these incidents, to contact us.”

Dyan Crowther, director of operational services at Network Rail, said: “Metal thieves targeting the railway are causing misery to thousands of passengers and freight users and costing the industry, and the wider economy, tens of millions a year – and rising.

“We are doing everything we can to deter such thefts and protect our vital railway. Working in partnership with the BTP, more and more culprits and illicit scrap metal dealers are being caught, and we’re pushing hard to make sure they face the toughest possible sentences.”

The independent charity Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to �1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any cable thieves. Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the BTP on 0800 40 50 40.