A Welsh Assembly Member is warning petty thieves targeting railways that they’re risking serious injury – or even death – for a few pounds’ worth of scrap metal.
Ken Skates, the Labour AM for Clwyd South, said it is ‘unfathomable’ that low-level criminals would put their lives on the line for small quantities of stolen cable.
His comments come after figures he obtained from British Transport Police (BTP) revealed 16 incidents involving thefts of railway cabling in North Wales in the past two years.
Mr Skates said: “Despite regular warnings from British Transport Police, thieves are continuing to ignore them and putting their lives in danger for the sake of a few pounds’ worth of scrap metal – it’s unfathomable.
“Metal theft is the single biggest cause of disruption on the rail network. When you weigh up the enormous risks taken for the relatively small gains the thieves make, if they’re even able to sell it on at all, the simple truth is that it really isn’t worth it.”
The BTP data obtained by Mr Skates shows Flintshire as the county where most offences were committed (eight), followed by Gwynedd (four) and Anglesey and Conwy (both two).
The full list of locations where offences were committed is: Blaenau Ffestiniog (4); Shotton (3); Flint (2); Llanfairpwll; Connah’s Quay; Pont-Y-Pant; Llanfairfechan; Hawarden; Holywell and Valley.
Detective Inspector Mark Cleland, British Transport Police’s metal theft lead for Wales, said: “Every single metal theft is an attack, in some form, on our communities and it is local residents and businesses who suffer. The act of stealing railway cable is incredibly dangerous. Thieves not only put themselves at risk of serious injury – or even death – through electrocution, but also face the prospect of being struck by a train.
“Cable theft is a crime which attracts strong penalties, including imprisonment. Trespassing on the line can also result in charges of endangering safety and obstructing the railways, which can carry a sentence of life imprisonment.
“The message is clear – anyone who seeks to profit from stolen metal should be in no doubt that we will do everything in our power to find them, arrest them and make full use of the law to ensure they are not in a position to put lives at risk again.”