Train workers stole rail track

A GANG who worked for a railway contractor have been sentenced for stealing track worth more than £18,000.

West Hallam man Craig Tasker, 27, of Burcott Close, was handed a four months sentence, suspended for a year, for his part in the theft at Derby Crown Court last Wednesday.

Foreman of the gang Michael Leaf, 33, of Lakeside Crescent, Long Eaton, was jailed for eight months, while another accomplice Clint Andrews, 20, of Derby Road, Long Eaton, was given a four months suspended sentence.

Police arrested the three men after stopping a vehicle on the M1 motorway on Friday November 5 last year, which they found to contain about £430 of stolen rail.

British Transport Police (BTP) then launched an investigation into the activity of the gang named Operation Operatic, and they discovered they had weighed in stolen rail more than 50 times between June and December 2009.

The track had been stolen from locations across the East Midlands and north London and was valued at more than £18,000.

All three, who had been working for a Network Rail subcontractor responsible for erecting fences and clearing work sites, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft and convert criminal property.

Tasker and Andrews are also to undertake 100 hours of community service as part of their sentences.

Det Con Michael Kelly from British Transport Police’s dedicated cable team said: “The theft of railway equipment and cable is an ongoing problem in the East Midlands area.

“We are utilising a whole range of tactics to tackle this type of crime. We will continue to carry out high profile patrols at known areas of theft across the area, as well as scrap yards which are a key role in tracking taken cable and metals.

“BTP will continue to work closely with Network Rail to prevent thefts by stepping up surveillance with covert actions and tightening security in hotspot areas.

“BTP will also continue to seek methods of detecting and preventing cable theft and will endeavor to secure prosecutions on every occasion.”

This sentencing comes just weeks after a Heanor gang was jailed for a total of 20 years and eight months for stealing almost £1m of cable in the area – some of which was sold in Ilkeston.