Thefts Could Have Caused Derailment


Thefts from South Auckland rail tracks could have caused a derailment, according to Police.

100  steel railway clips (“pandrol” clips) were taken from a small patch of the rail corridor in Takanini last week (July 30-31).

The clips hold the track in place and a sledgehammer is needed to remove them.

Senior Sergeant Mark Rowbottom says “Fortunately, the line was closed at the time and observant workers spotted the missing clips and replaced them immediately.  However, a train could easily have been derailed if nobody had noticed they were missing before the line re-opened.”

“These thieves don’t seem to realise how reckless they are being with peoples’ lives for the sake of 50 cents (the price paid for the clips on the scrap metal market).  We can only hope that upcoming work to electrify the rail network across Auckland will deter them, but I fear it won’t.”

Counties Manukau Police have upped the ante in regard to metal thefts, especially copper, over the last few months, targeting both thieves and those scrap metal dealers who are not complying with their obligations under the second-hand dealers legislation.  This has involved working alongside a number of other agencies.
Senior Sergeant Rowbottom says that “While there is still a long way to go, we have had some great results lately.”

In late July, Road Policing officers recovered 250kg of stolen copper from the boot of a vehicle that attempted to avoid a Police checkpoint outside a scrap metal dealership in Pukekohe.  Officers’ suspicions were immediately roused when they spotted the large object in the boot sporting fresh cutting marks.

After some enquiries Police learned that the object was part of a shoe used in the smelter process that had recently been stolen from the Glenbrook Steel Mill.  When whole, the shoe weighs over 700kg and costs $18000 to replace.  Two men, aged 21 and 26, were charged in relation to the incident, one for burglary of goods over $5000 and one for receiving stolen goods.

Last week Counties Manukau Police also discovered 297kg of copper piping which was sold as one lot to a scrap metal dealership in Otahuhu on 24 July 2011 and is suspected to have been stolen.   Police are appealing for information from anybody who may know where the piping may have come from.

Track thefts causing concern about a derailment

Senior Sergeant Mark Rowbottom is also very concerned about the way thieves are targeting earth wires that are part of a safety system for power delivery.  ”This is an incredibly dangerous practice, not just for thieves who risk their lives when taking the wires, but for nearby residents who could become unwitting victims of a power surge.”

“We are urging these thieves to wake up and realise that their actions are endangering not just their own lives, but the lives of their friends and families.”

If members of the public have any information that might help Police with their enquiries, they can contact Counties Manukau Police on 09 295 0200 and ask for Senior Sergeant Rowbottom.

If members of the public see suspicious activity they should take note the registration numbers of any vehicles involved and call 111 immediately. Alternatively, they can anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.



  1. Peter in Sydney says:

    To deter copper thieves in Sydney the traction current return wires for the electrified railway are being labelled “1500 Volt Negative” to make it very clear that what they are messing with is deadly.

  2. Greenwelly says:

    A few stupid idiots tried to take counterweights from the overhead tensioners on the wellington network a few weeks back,

    Taking parts of the rail network is stupid enough, but parking your trailer on the rail line and having a freight collide with it really is Darwin award territory.

  3. George D says:

    Just evil, really.

  4. tbird says:

    Yep, but even if they caught one of these guys in the act they’d get a mild slap on the wrist, despite potentially cost millions or injuring someone.


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