A LANGLEY Mill man who was part of a criminal gang whose spree of railway cable thefts cost the taxpayer almost £1m has been jailed for four years.
Scott Clark, 26, of Horsley Crescent, admitted conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to convert stolen property and was handed a four year sentence for both charges which will run concurrently.
Clark, and the other four thieves, all from Heanor, were convicted of 67 separate offences which were carried out over an 18-month period and were handed sentences totalling 16 years and eight months at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday, March 24.
The numerous thefts resulted in trains being delayed and at times even cancelled. Police said trains suffered a total of 322 hours delay due to the gang’s activities.
Chief superintendent Mark Smith of British Transport Police (BTP) said: “The criminal behaviour of this gang resulted in countless problems for commuters.
“It is far from a victimless crime. Cable theft hits hardest those who make use of the railway to get to and from work, to see loved ones and to ferry goods up and down the country.”
The five men were first arrested in August 2009 after they were found to have stolen cable at Bletchley station in Northamptonshire.
They were charged in September 2010 after a year long investigation when the extent of their criminal activity was unveiled.
The gang were responsible for a huge number of crimes across the country including Nuneaton, Rugby, Coventry, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Stockport and Crewe.
They also targeted local stations at Nottingham, Derby, Alfreton, Chesterfield and Langley Mill.
A team of four officers from the BTP’s London North area revealed the gang visited four metal recyclers to sell on the stolen cable In Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston.
Working together the gang often used false names and identification when dealing with their buyers.
Records and footage obtained from the metal recyclers helped officers track the criminals’ movements and enabled the investigating team to uncover the massive scale of their illegal enterprise.
In total they lifted 27 tonnes of cabling which cost Network Rail £933,896 in repairs and other charges.
Chief Supt Smith said: “The audacity of these five thieves – to carry out so many attacks on the railway over such a prolonged period – is staggering.
“Forensic techniques enabled the investigating team to place the men at the scenes of many of the crimes and have, ultimately, led to them appearing at court.
“This should send a clear message to criminals that neither the police, nor the courts, will tolerate the theft of cable or metal.”
Dyan Crowther, director of operational service at Network Rail, said: “Today’s sentence reflects how serious these crimes are as an attack on the community and the economy. These thieves have caused misery to thousands of passengers.
“Working in partnership with the police, more and more culprits and scrap metal dealers are being caught and we will continue to push hard to make sure that all thieves who attack our vital railway face the toughest possible sentences.”