Two cable thieves have been jailed, following a British Transport Police (BTP) investigation.
Lee Grandidge, 27, was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and Christopher Jones, 36, was jailed for 21 months at Leeds Crown Court on Monday, 15 July, after pleading guilty to a number of thefts from the railway line in Wakefield, West Yorkshire over a five month period in 2012.
The court heard how on Monday, 29 October 2012, approximately 100 metres of cable were stolen from the railway line near to Lady Gordon level crossing, between Wakefield and Kirkgate railway station.
BTP officers were called and searched the site where they discovered stripped cable sheathing and a number of burn sites next to the tracks where the theft had taken place. The cost to replace and repair the stolen cable was valued at over £1,100.
On Sunday, 23 December 2012, Network Rail reported a signal failure in the same area. Officers attended and discovered a section of cable had been badly damaged by someone unsuccessfully attempting to steal it. The cost to replace and repair the stolen cable was valued at over £2,400.
On Monday 7 January 2013, troughing lids were lifted and an amount of cable removed in preparation to be stolen at the same location. Officers responded and while they were undertaking a full area search, a large amount of stripped cable sheathing was discovered. DNA evidence was taken from the scene and forensically analysed which provided a match with Grandidge and he was subsequently arrested on 17 March at his home address on Arncliffe Road in Eastmoor.
A further investigation led officers to Jones, who resides at the same address, who was also arrested. Both men admitted to committing a number of thefts at the same location between July and November 2012.
They weighed in over 1000 kilos of copper at scrap metal dealers during the five month period.
Detective Inspector Stuart Mellish said: “Grandidge and Jones persistently targeted the railway in the Wakefield area on a number of occasions, stealing cable to obtain money to feed their drugs habit. They began by stealing redundant cable before risking their lives by moving to live cable that was being used for signalling along the tracks.”
“There is a common assumption that cable theft is a victimless crime, with the only effects being felt by the railway industry. This is not the case.
“Theft of cable can have a huge impact on the running of the rail network and thousands of passengers are inconvenienced by it every year.
“Stealing railway cable is incredibly dangerous. Thieves risk not only a prison sentence but also serious injury and death through electrocution.”
Phil Verster, Network Rail route managing director, said: “The irresponsible behaviour of greedy thieves continues to cause massive inconvenience to rail passengers. Not only are they putting themselves in danger, they are forcing us to use slow and outdated methods of moving trains in order to protect passengers.
“The delay caused by these crimes costs us all millions of pounds every year through missed appointments and delayed freight deliveries. This is unacceptable. We are protecting our network better than ever using security patrols, CCTV and forensic marking. This case shows that, working with the BTP, we will find the thieves, bring them to court and seek the toughest penalties We are grateful the court has recognised the seriousness of this crime in passing this sentence.”