A gang of cable thieves who cost Network Rail more than £1million has been jailed for a total of 12 years.
The gang, which included five men from the same family, all pleaded guilty to plotting to steal cable from the railway line across Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Leicestershire on 37 occasions between February 1, 2013, to December 31, 2013.
The men are Brian Derrick Smith, 36, of Millfield Lane, Stainforth; Malcolm Isaac, 42, of Thames Road, Grantham; Philip Smith, 25, of New Park Estate, Stainforth, Doncaster; Gordon Geoffrey Smith, 46, of Ramskir View, Doncaster; Charles Aaron Smith, 31, of Toller Court Horbling, Lincolnshire, and Craig Paul Smith, 27, of Holly Street, Lincoln.
A seventh man, Jaime Beardmore, 23, of Brunswick Street, Thurnscoe, Rotherham, received a 12-month suspended sentence for two years.
The gang was sentenced at Lincolnshire Crown Court on Monday.
The court heard how they had targeted three major projects being delivered by Network Rail and stole signalling cable, which had been installed but not yet commissioned as part of the projects. They then stripped the cabling and sold the copper inside.
The total cost to Network Rail to replace the cabling stolen at each location was valued at £1,054,099.
The men were arrested as part of Operation Motion in dawn raids at their home addresses in March, 2014, following a covert operation.
Detective Inspector Mick Dawes, of British Transport Police (BTP), said: “The gang targeted areas of the rail network which were remote and difficult to access without knowledge.
“They travelled the country in what was a well-planned and organised operation.
“Through working closely with industry colleagues, we tracked them down and brought them before the courts today.
“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 will do all we can to bring offenders to justice.
“The gang will now spend a considerable amount of time in prison and these sentences should act as a deterrent to others who seek to profit from cable theft.
“I would like to take his opprtunity to thank our partners within the railway industry for their support and co-operation with this investigation.”
Hayley Bull, community safety manager at Network Rail, added: “This case demonstrates just how costly cable theft from the railway can be.
“Trespassing on to the network for any reason is extremely dangerous and as this case shows it can end up costing the taxpayer huge sums of money to put right, as well as causing immense disruption for passengers trying to go about their daily lives and delays to improvement work intended to create a more reliable railway.
“We are continually developing better ways to protect the network from cable thieves and will continue to work with BTP to prosecute anyone caught carrying out such a mindless act of vandalism.”