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Cross-border cable theft conspirators sentenced - South Wales/Berkshire

 

  • Manager on £25m rail project abused position to carry out thefts
  • Stolen items disposed of by Merthyr scrap metal dealer
  • Pair conspired to steal £17k worth of railway cable
  • Net closed in as officers launched Operation Leek
  • Both men handed suspended 16-month prison sentences

 

Two men who conspired to steal large quantities of railway cable from Berkshire before selling it on in South Wales have been handed suspended prison sentences.

Paul Jones - a construction manager at Siemens Rail Automation, working on a £25 million re-signalling project on the Berks & Hants railway line - abused his position to identify where the most valuable cable could be stolen. 

He then used a flatbed truck, which was on hire for the project, to transport the stolen cable along the M4 to the Merthyr Metal Recycling scrap metal dealers, where owner Darren Jones was able to use his position to remove identity markings from the cable before selling it on.

Between 1 April and 17 July 2015, the pair managed to steal almost 8.5 tonnes of cable which was then sold on for a total of £17,110.

However, the plan began unravelling when Paul Jones was issued with a fixed penalty notice for driving a truck with an overweight load at junction 15 of the M4. This raised suspicions as to why the truck, which was hired specifically to transport cable between Ufton Nervet and Newbury, was being used so far west, particularly as Jones had a company car, a BMW 1 Series, for commuting to and from work.

Operation Leek was launched and, following a three-month investigation into the theft of railway cable in the Theale and Thatcham areas of Berkshire, both men were arrested during a series of dawn raids in and around Merthyr Tydfil.

Appearing at Merthyr Crown Court on Friday, 24 June, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to theft of railway cable, both men were sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. Paul Jones, aged 37, of Ael-y-Bryn, Fochriw, was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work on behalf of the community, while 49-year-old Darren Jones, of High Street, Dowlais, was placed on curfew for four months. 

Investigating officer DC Dan Murdoch said: "This was a calculated, pre-planned joint conspiracy, where both men were equally reliant upon each other - one person could not have stolen and disposed of the cable without the other's help. Paul Jones breached his position of trust to steal large quantities of railway cable, while Darren Jones assisted in the handling and sale of the stolen items.

"Paul Jones was a supervisor, employed by Siemens in a senior role specifically to oversee the recovery of redundant cable as part of the Berks & Hants re-signalling project. Part of his job was to oversee staff and help prevent the theft of railway cable. Not only did he abuse his position to steal the cable he was being paid to protect, but he also encouraged workers under his supervision to assist with the thefts by using them to transport bags of stolen cable from Newbury to Merthyr Metals. 

"This case is as much about the reputational damage, costs and delays accrued to the re-signalling project as it is the value of the stolen goods. The ramifications are so serious that Siemens - who estimated a total cost to the business of £340,000 as a result of the thefts - stated that a smaller company may not have survived.

"Network Rail has a national supply chain to recycle or sell cable to fund future projects; therefore, these thefts have had a direct impact on passengers who often have to foot the bill when thieves strike. 

"Each year, the actions of thieves result in countless delays and cancellations, along with huge associated compensation costs. We will continue to work with our industry partners to combat cable theft and will not stop in our pursuit of those that seek to profit from stealing from the railway."

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