RAIL services were disrupted by cable thieves for the second time in a week.
Just after midnight on Friday 20 metres of electrical cable was found missing from a section of track near Shotton.
The theft was discovered after a circuit failure was detected on the track.
It comes after 55 metres of cable was stolen from the same stretch of track. at about 11pm on Wednesday.
On both occasions Network Rail engineers worked through the night to replace the cable to minimise delays to Arriva Trains services, which returned to normal at just after 7am.
Thieves have been branded “parasitic opportunists” by Det Insp Mark Cleland, who said they were putting their lives, and the lives of innocent people, at risk for a “minimal” amount of cash.
A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesman said: “At 12.07am on Friday, November 16, BTP officers were called to a section of track near Shotton Low Level rail station following a report of a track circuit failure.
“After conducting a search of the area, it was discovered that 20 metres of railway cable had been stolen.
“The incident comes after another attack on the rail network on Wednesday, November 14, when 55 metres of cable was stolen from the same area. That incident was reported to police at 10.49pm.
“Patrols are currently being conducted and visits are also being made to scrap metal dealers, who are assisting officers with their enquiries.
“We continue to work closely with Network Rail as part of our investigation into these incidents.”
Det Insp Cleland said: “Theft of cable not only causes significant disruption to the rail network but has serious financial implications for the industry.
“The act of stealing railway cable is also incredibly dangerous, and anyone seeking to do so risks serious injury – or even death – through electrocution.
“When you consider that thieves are only likely to receive a minimal amount of cash for this stolen cable – that’s if they are able to sell it on at all – it really isn’t worth the risk.
“Individuals who steal from the railway are nothing but parasitic opportunists, who prey on law-abiding taxpayers. They are organised and selfish, and they need to be stopped before innocent people are killed by their greed.
“Theft of railway cable is not only incredibly dangerous but attracts significant custodial sentences.
“My message to these thieves is simple: if you are foolish enough to risk your own life to fund your lifestyle, we will do everything in our power to find you, to arrest you and make full use of the law to ensure you will not be in a position to commit offences for many years to come.”
Cable and metal thefts have a serious impact on the railway and have cost Network Rail more than £43 million over the past three years. It is estimated metal theft is now costing the industry about £16 million a year.
Anyone who has information or witnessed anything suspicious in the area can call BTP on 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 6 of November 16.
Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
See full story in the Leader