Combatting Cable Theft and Enabling Cable Recovery
The theft of metal is a huge problem for the Railway and, in addition to targeting copper cables, thieves and organised crime gangs also target overhead power lines and other metal such as fencing to sell for scrap.
The UK Rail network is fail safe, so when a cable is cut by a thief, all trains along that track are brought to a standstill. This is an essential safety mechanism to protect passengers and staff, but of course it also leads to lengthy timetable delays.
Network Rail has announced plans to replace copper cables with aluminium cable as these are less profitable for thieves and therefore less likely to be stolen. They are still at risk though, and the rollout of this scheme will in any event take a considerable time to complete. In the meantime, we need to deter and prevent theft and ensure that copper cable is recovered quickly.
Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act 2013
The introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act in 2013 did help to assuage the situation at first and there was an 80% fall in both the number of cable theft incidents and associated delays. However the price of copper has risen again and the incidents of theft are starting to increase.
Soaring Copper Prices
Research by the London Metal Exchange shows that the price of copper has increased by more than 50% in less than a year and the government’s commitment to a new infrastructure strategy of over £500bn means that the opportunity for theft is also exponentially increased. According to the British Transport Police cable theft is occurring at least 5 times a week, causing 23,670 minutes of delays to passengers.
Challenges to Cable Theft Prevention & Recovery
One of the challenges of eliminating cable theft is the vast expanse of the Rail network and the remoteness of much of the environment on which it is situated.
Orion Solutions for Prevention & Recovery
Smarter Technologies Group works with local government, freight and passenger train operators, local police forces, other agencies and the bona fide metals recycling trade, to tackle metal theft through covert and overt tracking, monitoring and security systems, recovery solutions, enforcement, education and deterrence. Our Orion Cable Theft Tracking, Monitoring and Recovery solutions send instant alerts if the cable is dug up and cut and covertly tracks the location of the cable if the thieves manage to get away, so it can be easily recovered. Integration with CCTV and the covert tags supply invaluable evidence to secure arrest and conviction.