British Transport Police face a big challenge with the theft of cable from the railways. Metal theft is a huge problem for many industries, including the railway. As well as thefts from depots, thieves are increasingly willing to risk their lives to steal cable from the lines, causing considerable disruption to services.
And it’s on the increase too. Nationally in 2006 BTP recorded 1,142 crimes and made 317 arrests in relation to cable theft, in 2007 that had increased to 1,928 thefts and 396 arrests.
BTP is leading the fight against metal theft and Operation Drum is a national squad dedicated to cable theft.
BTP also uses the latest technology in police surveillance to help combat this type of crime. The Microdrone is an unmanned, almost silent helicopter that can film from more that 350ft. Almost invisible to the naked eye and able to hover above railway lines and surrounding areas, the remote controlled helicopter is the size of a dustbin lid and beams back live video footage and infra-red imagery to police operators on the ground. The hovering Microdrone can even squirt offenders with Smartwater security marking solution that can then be identified by police.
The public and local communities can also play their part by reporting anyone they suspect of being involved in cable thefts. Take a look a these Crimestoppers leaflets for more information.