THIEVES who risk their lives to steal railway cable have been slammed after figures showed Flintshire as the worst county in North Wales for the crime.
A total of 16 such thefts have occurred across North Wales during the last two years and half of those took place in Flintshire, according to British Transport Police figures.
Of those eight offences, three were in Shotton, two in Flint and one each in Connah’s Quay, Hawarden and Holywell.
Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant has expressed his dismay at the thefts.
“I was disappointed to see a number of incidents were recorded in Deeside and I would urge people to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity they may come across on our railways to the British Transport Police,” he said.
“Thousands of people rely on trains to get around and thefts like these not only cause delays and disruption, but they put lives at risk.”
Det Insp Mark Cleland, of British Transport Police, 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.”
One of the most serious incidents in Flintshire happened when raiders in Connah’s Quay cut off power to thousands of homes when they attempted to cut through a railway cable carrying thousands of volts of electricity in May last year.
Scottish Power said the thieves’ action showed a “staggering disregard” for their own safety.