RAILWAY criminals in South Yorkshire have cost taxpayers £280,000 in the last year, according to the network operators.
Network Rail and the British Transport Police have pledged to cut down on rail crime, particularly metal theft, which they said had caused delays of 89 hours in the past 12 months.
They aim to use new surveillance techniques aim to catch criminals in the act and have pledged to prosecute and fine offenders.
Network Rail said the number of offences has risen in the past month as the price of copper increased, with incidents being reported daily in the first week of April.
Cash trades for scrap metal are illegal without exception and subject to unlimited fines.
BTP have pledged to carry out proactive patrols and using real time surveillance techniques to monitor hotspot areas.
Olga Barannikova, area customer services and performance manager for Network Rail, said: “The impact of railway cable theft mustn't be underestimated.
“Not only does it waste taxpayers’ money and frustratingly make passengers late, but it also holds up the delivery of important freight supplies and takes key railway staff away from their work.
“We’re constantly finding new, clever ways to catch offenders, and I know that this new push with the BTP will help us to hammer home that criminal behaviour — trespass, vandalism and theft — will not be tolerated on Britain’s railway.”
PC Darren Martin from BTP's disruption team, said: “The theft of cable from the railway is far from a victimless crime.
“Every days, rail users feel the impact on their journeys when thieves strike and ultimately it is the tax payer who forks out.
“We continue to work with Network Rail to modernise and enhance our resources to catch cable thieves in the act — I would assure those responsible for the recent spate of cable thefts in south Yorkshire that it is only a matter of time before they are caught.”