“The continued reduction in crime is very good news, but economics is having its effect,” said British Transport Police (BTP) Chief Constable Andy Trotter.
“We know that during difficult economic times acquisitive crime is likely to increase, and these figures show that.
“Cable theft is a real challenge for us, the rail industry and other utilities. The record price of metals on world markets has made this type of crime seem increasingly attractive, although the actual returns to the thieves are pretty modest.
“Metal theft causes significant disruption to rail services and that means real consequences for real people – missed business meetings, family celebrations and appointments for instance. And that’s not to mention the huge financial costs to the rail industry and the dangers to the thieves themselves.
“We have increased the resources we are devoting to this issue and are working closely with Network Rail to find more effective ways of reversing this trend.”