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Publication date: 2 December 2011
Author: Be Bold Public Relations

Cable theft slashed on SmartWater-protected rail line

Theft of trackside cable on a key national rail route has been slashed by more than 20 per cent since the introduction of an innovative crime reduction strategy developed by SmartWater Technology Ltd.

Figures unveiled by Network Rail show a marked drop in cable thefts along the London to North West (LNW) mainline compared to the same period last year. Since the introduction of SmartWater in November 2010 there has been a 21 per cent reduction in cable theft incidents along the LNW route, contributing to a 35 per cent reduction in delay minutes to commuters travelling on the route. In stark contrast to this success, other UK and European rail networks have seen significant increases in cabling attacks.

SmartWater assigns trackside cable with a uniquely coded chemical signature that is identifiable by police, whether it is found in the possession of thieves or later in scrap metal yards. The liquid, which is virtually impossible to remove and capable of withstanding burning, provides the police with irrefutable proof of ownership. Forensic trap devices are also in use to mark offender’s skin, hair and clothes and place them directly at a crime scene.

SmartWater has pointed to the strategic use of its technology as the reason behind this latest success together with an ongoing partnership involving Network Rail, British Transport Police, Train Operating Companies and law-abiding scrap dealers to take the fight to metal thieves.

Chief Executive of SmartWater, Phil Cleary, said: “Property marking as an isolated security measure has been disproven as a meaningful deterrent of crime. Instead, SmartWater uses its technology tactically, combining it with intelligence gathering, crime mapping and regular scrap dealer awareness visits to keep continual pressure on the criminal fraternity.

“These figures are extremely encouraging and demonstrate the success of the partnership approach we have taken to combat metal theft on the LNW route. This proven model for crime reduction that we have developed is saving hundreds of hours of disruption and huge replacement and repair costs for Network Rail. This is now the subject of major interest from railway networks across Europe.”

Earlier this year, Network Rail said passengers were delayed by more than 6,000 hours nationally over the past year, relating to more than 3,000 crimes. Network Rail also said it had paid out £16.5m to replace stolen cables and compensate train operators for loss of service in the same period.

Virgin Trains’ Chief Operating Officer, Chris Gibb, said: “Cable thefts are directly responsible for a significant number of delays to our service, which has a knock-on effect of causing major disruptions to customers. Anything that helps ensure our trains run on time is very welcome and so we are naturally delighted with these latest results.

Virgin Trains is committed to working in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police, SmartWater and other train operators to keep up the pressure on cable thieves. We have also been lobbying the UK Government to make changes urgently to regulations and legislation to make it more difficult to dispose of stolen scrap copper, given the impact this is having on the economy.”

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