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5th Jul, 2022

Network Rail bid to sniff out metal thieves on Solihull rail line

Ross Crawford 26th Feb, 2022

SPECIALLY trained sniffer dogs are now being used to track down metal thieves who cause major delays to passengers and freight on the Chiltern main line and key West Midlands rail routes.

Network Rail has enlisted the canine recruits, provided by Search Dogs UK, to crack down on criminals who steal vital cables and materials from the railway and catch those who illegally sell those items on.

A widespread operation is underway to mark railway property with a permanent synthetic solution only visible under special police torches, so metal can be found and identified after it goes missing.

The special DNA spray also has a unique scent which the dogs can detect, leading police directly to any stolen supplies illegally on sale at scrap metal dealers.

Andrea Graham, head of crime and security for Network Rail’s North West and Central region, said: “Metal theft continues to cause huge problems for passengers and freight customers at a very significant cost to our business – which is of course funded by the taxpayer.

“We’re always looking at new ways to crack down on criminals and now we have man’s best friend on the case too. Our message to thieves who think they can steal from us is clear – we will find you and bring you to justice, because you’re not only putting you own life at risk but also the lives of our passengers and staff.”

Figures released by Network Rail show that since 2017 there were 22 incidents of serious metal theft on the Chiltern main line between London Marylebone, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Solihull and Birmingham, and rail routes across the West Midlands.

These incidents caused trains to be delayed for a total of 19,000 minutes – or 13 days – and cost the taxpayer nearly £1million.

Anyone witnessing suspicious behaviour on or around the railway should report it to British Transport Police on 0800 405040 or texting 61016.

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