Stratford metal thieves caught with stripped cable are jailed

A Stratford man caught red-handed with �12,000 worth of metal stripped from under a railway arch has been jailed.

Alyynas Lazauskas, 53, was discovered by British Transport Police officers clutching the copper cable alongside Gintaras Viktus, 40, near to Carr Street in Limehouse on December 7 last year.

Their haul included three drums of railway cable waiting to be stripped of its valuable copper core,

The pair was convicted of handling stolen goods after a three-day trial at Blackfriars’ Crown Court.

Lazauskas, of Meath Road, was jailed for 12 months, save for the 133 days he has already spent in custody, while Viktus was jailed for 18 months.

Seventy-three days he already spent in custody for a separate offence committed while on remand, were taken off the sentence.

The court heard both men were arrested at the scene of the offence and charged later that night.

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Det Insp Nick Brook, part of the BTP investigating team, said: “I hope the sentences handed down to this pair send a stark warning to others seeking to profit from stealing from the railway.

“Viktus and Lazauskas were caught red-handed with reams of cable, giving no excuse other than they were stripping it for cash. Their not guilty plea did not weigh up and they were convicted by a majority verdict from the jury.

“Stealing railway cable is incredibly dangerous, and anyone seeking to do so risks serious injury – or even death – through electrocution, all for a significantly small profit.

“Additionally, it affects every single train passenger because services can be ground to a halt when cable is taken.”

Dave Ward, Anglia route managing director for Network Rail, said: “Cable theft is costing the rail industry almost �20 million a year, which is money we would otherwise spend on improving and maintaining our railway.

“It’s a huge issue and one which all affected industries are committed to tackling – but we can’t do it alone. We’re working across the rail industry and with others, including BT and other utilities companies, to try and get changes to the laws governing scrap metal dealers.

“The police must also be given the powers they need to shut down the rogue scrap dealers who are profiting from the travelling public’s misery.”