Tyne & Wear

Network Rail worker held over Sunderland cable theft

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Media captionPolice carried out raids to detain their suspects

A 41-year-old Network Rail employee has been arrested in Sunderland by police investigating cable thefts.

He was one of 14 people arrested within a two-mile radius in the city as part of an operation involving 90 British Transport Police (BTP) officers.

BTP deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther said cable theft was one of the force's biggest challenges after terrorism.

Network Rail said the crime cost it more than £19m each year.

Officers searching a number of houses, seized mobile phones, computers, receipts and bank statements which will be sent for forensic examination.

Head of Operation Leopard, Det Insp Stuart Mellish, said BTP believed an organised gang had been stealing cable worth over £2m from across the country over the past two years.

"Railway cable theft is blighting our infrastructure and disrupting the lives of ordinary people on a daily basis," he said.

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