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Copper thieves target railway cables

Copper thieves have been at work along the railway lines in the northern canton of Aargau over the past week, police announced on Monday.

This content was published on September 21, 2009 - 17:18

In two separate incidents at the weekend they dismantled and removed about three kilometres of earth cable.

On their first attempt in the early hours of Thursday they dismantled about 300 metres of cable but were unable to take it away, probably because they were interrupted.

However, on that occasion they caused a short circuit, which stopped traffic until 0845. In the other two incidents, it was train drivers who later noticed that the cable was missing.

Swiss Railways spokesman Roman Marti told the Swiss News Agency that the relevant stretches would now be patrolled more carefully.

The copper earth cable is used to complete the railway's electric circuit and return the power to a substation. However, since current is also returned via the rails and the earth, removal of the cable does not necessarily lead to a short circuit.

Although the cable is not itself live, anyone interfering with it runs a very serious risk of electrocution.

The police presume that the thieves are professionals with expert knowledge.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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