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Not just ants, thieves too target circuit wires

If you are one of those crotchety commuters who rail at the railways, or the rain, every time there’s a signal failure that halts your train, you’d be right to exercise a little restraint before blowing your lid at every glitch. Sometimes, it’s the thieves at work.

The Kurla Railway Protection Force (RPF) yesterday arrested a group of five thieves who had been stealing impedance bond copper and auxiliary foils from the circuit boxes at railway signals for the past two months. Cops said that the misdeed led to frequent signal failures, stranding lakhs of commuters aboard trains on the Central and Western Railways until the faults were located and rectified.

According to railway officials, these wires are used in track circuits, which allow signalling systems to operate automatically by displaying signals for trains to slow down or stop when the track ahead is occupied.

In the past several weeks, the RPF received several complaints about copper and auxiliary foils missing from signal boxes, which led to signal failures and, sometimes, subsequent delays in the operations of local and mail trains.

“Initially it was suspected that trains were getting delayed due to rains, but we learnt that signal failures were happening on the central and harbour lines because copper and auxiliary foils were missing from signal boxes. These wires have high copper or aluminium components and are therefore popular among thieves as they get good money by selling them to scrap dealers, ” said a RPF officials.

Cops said that in May and June the gang was very active and caused delays in locals several times, especially between Ghatkopar and Vikhroli stations, where several incidents of signal failures were reported.

When railway officials investigated the issue with the help of their engineers, they saw that wires were missing and lodged a complaint with the RPF, the force responsible for looking after railway property.

After probing the case, the RPF personnel zeroed in on Suddam Hashmi, Tabrez Idrissi, Abdul Khan, Dhadamchan Jain (a scrap merchant), Ali Khan and Mohammad Shaikh, who are all from Govandi area.

All the accused have been arrested and booked under the Indian Railway Act, 1989. 

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