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Cable thief who brought chaos to the ECML and delayed Great Britain’s Olympic team is jailed

March 8, 2013, 4:09 pm

A cable thief who brought misery to thousands of passengers, including the Great Britains Olympic football team, and spectators heading to London on the first day of the Olympics, has been jailed for 18 months following an investigation by British Transport Police.

George Bogdan Ilie, aged 20, targeted the East Coast mainline near to Great Ponton in Grantham on Tuesday, 17 July 2012

On Wednesday, 6 March 2013, Birmingham Crown Court heard that Ilie, from Victoria Road in Birmingham, cut through signalling cable in an attempt to steal it, bringing the line, and thousands of passengers travelling on it to a standstill.

Ilie fled empty handed but his attempts to steal the cable resulted in over 2,000 minutes of delays, and cost Network Rail over £139,000 in repairs and costs.

Forensic examination of the scene identified Ilie, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He fled the country, believed to have returned to Romania – where he was born – on 2 August 2012.

On 15 November 2012, BTP officers in the Warwickshire area arrested a man attempting to steal railway cable, the man was identified as Ilie and he was subsequently charged with the offence from July.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Stuart Mellish said, “Ilie’s irresponsible actions delayed thousands of passengers travelling to London on the opening day of the Olympics. Some then would have been late for, or even missed, events they paid a lot of money to watch.

“There is a common assumption that cable theft is a victimless crime, with the only effects being felt by the railway industry. This is not the case and this investigation highlights the knock on effects on members of the public and in this case even Great Britains football team.

“Stealing railway cable is incredibly dangerous. Thieves risk not only a prison sentence like Ilie, but also serious injury and death through electrocution.”

Phil Verster, Network Rail route managing director, said: “The irresponsible behavior of greedy thieves continues to cause massive inconvenience to rail passengers. Not only are they putting themselves in danger, they are forcing us to use slow and outdated methods of moving trains in order to protect passengers.

“The delay caused by these crimes costs us all millions of pounds every year through missed appointments and delayed freight deliveries. This is unacceptable. We are protecting our network better than ever using security patrols, CCTV and forensic marking. This case shows that, working with the BTP, we will find the thieves, bring them to court and seek the toughest penalties, We are grateful the court has recognised the seriousness of this crime in passing this sentence.”

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