THIEVES are risking their lives by snatching powerful detonators from railway lines.
Six detonators were stolen from lines near Villette Road, in Hendon, over the weekend.
The theft is believed to have taken place sometime between 11pm on Saturday and 1am on Sunday, when rail staff working along the line noticed the detonators had been taken.
The explosive devices, which are safe if handled correctly, are designed to be triggered by impact and emit a loud bang when a train passes over them.
They had been placed on the track to warn rail maintenance workmen of approaching trains.
The detonators are described as small discs, approximately 5cm in diameter, with two lead strips either side.
PC Mick Proudfoot, of British Transport Police (BTP), warned that a teenager in Essex was blinded after an accident involving a detonator.
He said: “The detonators contain mild explosives and emit a loud bang when drivers pass over them, to warn track workers that a train will be coming their way soon.
“They could be very dangerous in untrained hands, particularly young children or teenagers who may see them as a source of fun or entertainment.
“Only a few weeks ago a teenager from Essex sadly lost their sight after a detonator accident so I can’t emphasise the dangers enough.
“We are obviously concerned for the safety of the individuals who have the detonators, regardless of their age, and I would urge anyone who has information that could help us with our enquiries to contact us as soon as possible.”
Thieves have repeatedly put themselves at risk to snatch high-value metal from railway lines in Sunderland.
Joseph Carolan has been banned from entering any railway station in England and Wales for the next three years after stealing essential railway equipment from Tyne and Wear Metro.
The 47-year-old, of Exeter Street, in Pallion, was sentenced in March at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to theft from the railway.
Covert cameras were activated after suspicious activity was reported on the Metro line near Pallion station.
BTP and Northumbria Police officers found an abandoned car with stolen bonding cable in the boot.
Carolan was charged with theft from the railway, driving without insurance and a road traffic offence and was given 20-months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and must pay £400 compensation to Network Rail.
He was also given a Crasbo (criminal anti-social behaviour order) which states he must not enter any Network Rail property, including all stations across England and Wales, for the next three years.