CABLE thieves are making life a misery for rail commuters heading into the Wakefield area.
Now Network Rail, in partnership with the charity Crimestoppers, is offering a reward of up to £1,000 to people who help to catch cable thieves who have been disrupting rail services in that part of West Yorkshire.
Apart from the summer floods, the theft of cable used in railway signalling systems is the single biggest cause of delay to trains in the region and is costing the industry millions of pounds.
Network Rail has been working with British Transport Police to prevent cable theft and to catch the thieves.
Dyan Crowther, route director for Network Rail said: “We are doing everything we can to stop the cable thieves, including increasing dedicated security patrols and investigating the use of technology used by the security services to protect the cable.
“Now we are asking people who live in the areas which have been worst affected to help us to catch these thieves and to keep the railway running.
“I would ask anyone who sees people acting suspiciously near the tracks to report it immediately.”
Det Chief Insp Danny Snee from British Transport Police added: “After the threat of terrorism, the theft of cable is one of BTP’s biggest challenges. Those who steal cable are not just risking a prison sentence, they are risking their lives.
“This is an extremely dangerous crime which is an attack on the community. Passengers are missing holiday flights, hospital appointments and business or social meetings due to the delays caused.
“BTP have dedicated cable squads that undertake regular operations, including round-the-clock patrols targeted at hotspot crime areas in Wakefield.
“Those involved can expect us to use every means to target them. We are working hard to catch and prosecute culprits in an attempt to eradicate this problem.”
Rail passengers are not put in danger by cable thieves. A failsafe system turns all signals to red as soon as a cable is cut.
BTP has recorded 1,158 offences of cable theft since April 2006 in the North East area and arrested more than 470 people.
The reward is up to £1,000 for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone for the theft of copper cable from the rail network.
Anyone with information should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.