Fifteen Held in Rail Theft Crackdown in Wales

Nov. 26, 2018
Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of stealing railway cable and metal as part of a major crackdown on organised crime in south Wales.

Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of stealing railway cable and metal as part of a major crackdown on organised crime in south Wales.

British Transport and Gwent police forces carried out raids at a series of addresses in Newport yesterday.

As well as the discovery of the stolen rail items, officers also seized a number of items including six vehicles, four quad bikes and firearms.

Nine men aged between 19 and 37, along with a 17-year-old youth, were arrested during the simultaneous dawn raids.

All 10 were taken to a police station in Cardiff Bay on suspicion of conspiracy to steal cable and metal from the railway line in the Greater Newport area between September 2010 and March 2011.

Detective Inspector Mark Cleland, of British Transport Police, said after terrorism, cable theft is one of the biggest issues facing the rail industry.

He said: ``Each year, the actions of thieves cost Network Rail hundreds of thousands of pounds in repairs and result in countless delays and cancellations and huge associated compensation costs.

``Cable theft also has a negative effect on the economy of the geographical area concerned, and the wider UK economy.

``These arrests send out a clear message to the community in the Newport area that BTP will not tolerate cable theft and will hunt down those suspected of being involved in stealing railway cable and metal.''

Insp Cleland said railway-related thefts had been a particular problem in Newport - with a marked increase in the number of offences in the past year.

Last year, police recorded 62 incidents of railway cable and metal being stolen - compared with 14 in 2009.

He added: ``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.

``Hospital appointments and flights, for example, are hampered by the resulting delays and cancellations to trains.''

Yesterday's operation marked the third series of arrests relating to rail crime in over a week.

On March 2, two men and a woman were arrested after officers visited a scrap metal dealership in Newport.

A British Transport Police spokesman said: ``A 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of money laundering, false accounting and having no scrap metal dealer's licence.

``A 54-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and false accounting.

``And a 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering.''

Police added that last Monday a 39-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman from Langstone, Newport, were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and false accounting following a similar operation at a local scrapyard.

Today, British Transport Police confirmed all 15 suspects had now been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Meanwhile, Mark Langman, Network Rail route director, said the company was working closely with the police on further investigations as well as preventative measures.

He added: ``Since it first became a significant problem for us in 2006, trains across the UK have been delayed by 1.1 million minutes.

``Britain relies on rail and all those lost minutes have a significant effect on people's lives, with them being late for work, missing appointments and it eating into their leisure time.

``As well as the inconvenience to passengers and freight customers, cable theft has cost the company over £35 million in compensation and damage repairs since 2006. That is effectively wasted money that would be better spent improving and enhancing the railways for the benefit of everyone.''