Fifteen people have been arrested as part of a major investigation into cable theft.
Officers from British Transport Police (BTP) swooped on a gang of suspected cable thieves in Sunderland today during a string of early morning raids.
Over 90 officers from Operation Leopard, BTP’s team of officers dedicated to tackling cable theft from the railway, visited 12 addresses across the city as part of the latest crackdown to tackle cable crime on the railways.
Detailed house searches followed the arrests and a number of items were seized and removed for forensic examination, including mobile phones, computers and laptops, receipts and bank statements.
Fourteen people, 11 men aged 43, 42, 41, 38, 37, 36, 30, 28, 28, 25, and 24, and three women, aged 27, 27 and 18, were arrested in the Sunderland area. A 50-year-old man was also arrested in Osmotherley, North Yorkshire.
Prior to their arrest today, four of the men, aged 38, 28, 28 and 41, were arrested on Saturday March 23 in connection with the theft of 750 metres of railway cable from the Manton Lane area, near Crossgates, Leeds.
They were detained after two vehicles they were travelling in were intercepted on the M1 motorway near Harrogate. Both vehicles were seized, and a number of items were taken for forensic examination following a search of the vehicle and their home addresses, including mobile phones, laptops, clothing, and cutting tools.
All four men were questioned and released at that time on police bail pending further enquiries until April 24. They have now been further arrested on suspicion of other offences and remain in custody at this time.