• Merseyside man jailed for 9 months for stealing railway cable
• Keith McDonald targeted the railway line in St Helens in January 2015.
Keith McDonald (25) of Norcliffe Road, Rainhill, Merseyside was sentenced to nine months behind bars and ordered to pay £100 victim surcharge after being sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, 24 February.
He was also disqualified from driving for two years in relation to a separate incident involving Merseyside Police.
In the early hours of Friday, 2nd January 2016, we received a call from a member of the public reporting that a man was stealing railway cable near St Helens station.
Officers attended and discovered an abandoned white van. An area search took place involving a police helicopter and a search dog. When officers searched the van, a driving license belonging to McDonald was discovered and he was subsequently arrested.
McDonald targeted the line near the station to steal signalling cable which had been placed in the area ready to install as part of a Network Rail project resignalling project. Whilst no cable was physically stolen, Network Rail estimate that damage to the cable, which had been cut and dragged into his van, was estimated at £30,000.
After initially denying his involvement, analysis of McDonald’s mobile records provided overwhelming evidence placing him at the scene and linking him to the attempted theft which gave him no choice but to plead guilty.
Detective Inspector Tony Fitzpatrick said, “Cable theft costs the rail industry millions of pounds each year, causing delays and increases in costs to projects which have a knock-on effect on passengers.
“We take this type of crime extremely seriously and we have a dedicated team of officers who use a wide range of tactics to track down criminals who target the railway to steal cable and do all we can to bring offenders to justice.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “This sentence sends a clear message that if you are caught stealing cables – or anything else from the railway – you run the serious risk of time behind bars. Theft from the railway causes delays to passengers and ultimately uses taxpayers’ money to carry out repairs – money which would otherwise be spent on improving the network. We will always fully support British Transport Police in their investigations into anyone suspected of committing railway crime.”
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