Groundworker Tony Price, 30, pleaded guilty and was handed a eight month sentence, suspended for two years, on Tuesday, 22 June 2010, at Luton Crown Court following an investigation by detectives from British Transport Police. Price was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,500 compensation to Network Rail.
His cousin, motor trader Terry Price, of Littleport, Ely, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months in jail at an earlier hearing in March of this year.
The court heard how the pair broke into a Network Rail depot in Hitchin by forcing padlocks open with bolt-croppers on the morning of Saturday 2nd May, 2009. Terry Price (wearing striped jumper) and Tony Price (wearing a high-visibility jacket) then loaded four drums and a number of other smaller lengths of copper cabling into a white Transit van before making off.
“We work very closely with Network Rail in monitoring and improving the security of railway depots, as this case well illustrates,” said investigating officer, Detective Constable Gerry Griffin. “These men were caught out in broad daylight under the full glare of CCTV cameras. The footage is so clear that they had little choice other than to hold their hands up to what they doing.”
Det Con Griffin and his team arrested Terry Price outside High Wycombe Magistrates Court, while Tony Price, who had already been remanded in custody, was later arrested at HMP Woodhill. Det Con Griffin said that stealing metal from the railway or from the wider community is not a victimless crime.
“It has a number of knock on effects that can cause misery, from rail delays and power cuts to disruption to phone and communications networks,” he said. “Metal theft is a serious offence and we will push for the strongest penalties for those who engage in it.”
Richard Lungmuss, Network Rail route director, said: “The sentences handed down in this case send a stark warning to anyone considering stealing cable from the railway. The theft of cable is a constant drain on our resources and cause of considerable disruption to rail users. This is not acceptable.
“We are working with our colleagues at the train operating companies and the British Transport Police on a number of ideas to tackle thieves, including covert surveillance and helicopter patrols, but we need help from local people too.
“It’s your railway – help us keep services running reliably by reporting anyone you see acting suspiciously or let the police know of any information you have about people committing these crimes.”