Copenhagen copper crooks hit rail commuters

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 28, 2015 6:18 AM

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Commuters in the Danish capital faced widespread disruptions on the train network caused by the third theft in a week of copper cables from the tracks.

Thieves got away with 200 meters of the cable from a track in southern Copenhagen on Tuesday night, closing two of seven main train lines and delaying journeys on the others.

Around 350,000 passengers use the network daily, and track operator Rail Net Denmark said it was not sure it would be able to open up the two lines in time for Wednesday's evening rush hour. The cables are a vital part of the electrical system that powers the trains.

"Since Friday, there have been a number of thefts, some of which have brought great inconvenience to passengers," Rail Net Denmark said in a statement. "The thefts are due to the cost of the copper in the cables that can be sold as scrap."

Cable thieves could be jailed for up to six years under Danish law but no one has been yet convicted despite 173 such incidents in 2014. Rail Net Denmark, responsible for 2,323 km (1,443 miles) of track, tried using GPS tags to prevent theft but the thieves simply removed them.

The track operator says it is in touch with scrap dealers around the country, who insist they do not trade in the cables.

(Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen; Editing by Sabina Zawadzki and Robin Pomeroy)