Information published on 21 October 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 420.

7th UIC Metal Theft WG meeting, 16 October – Lisbon, Portugal

  • Security

UIC, represented by Mrs Susanne Kufeld (Head of DB Situation Center and Global Crisis Management Corporate Security (CZL) and UIC Metal Theft WG Chairperson), and Mr José Pires (Senior Advisor within the UIC Security Division), coordinated the 7th UIC Metal Theft WG meeting on 16 October.

The meeting was kindly hosted by Mr Cardoso dos Reis (Senior Advisor of REFER Board) and Mrs Luisa Garcia (REFER Safety/Security Director) from REFER, EPE the Portuguese Rail Network Manager in cooperation with UIC, at the Santa Apolonia railway station in Lisbon.

Over the last 17 months this working group has been involved in numerous activities, with the aim of raising the profile of the metal theft discussions among the sectors, authorities and institutions concerned – with positive results!

Very briefly, the working group activities already presented the Metal Theft Position Paper (published in November 2013 at the UIC World Security Congress); acts as a Single Rail Forum for metal theft on the railways providing representation of all the railway collective bodies, authorities and its institutional partners; it technically supports the liaison/lobbying bodies (CER/EIM) on the activities with European Commission; and provides an information sharing platform for railways/authorities on metal theft issues; and thus represents the centre for best practice in combating metal theft.

Regarding the partnerships arena, UIC has been an official partner of Pol-PRIMETT II through the UIC Metal Theft WG since May 2014, with which it is developing a collaboration that will allow it to function as a hub of good practice and exchange, and a platform to create a wider information dissemination network (with not just the rail transport sector).

In the partnership pipeline are also joint activities towards raising awareness of metal theft impacts, participation in awareness campaigns for the public and development of information booklets for professionals (e.g. RAILPOL COPPER E-BOOK, UIC newsletter, etc.)

All these activities will be linking in a coherent manner with the work group strategy towards other partners such as EUROPOL and EC LANDSEC Advisory Group. In particular with the EC LANDSEC Advisory Group where on 15 September 2014, UIC was tasked with conducting and organising on behalf of EC DG MOVE a series of three dedicated workshops on metal theft (between November 2014 and March 2015).

The aim of these three workshops will be to discuss and meet specific objectives:

  • Define what a Railway Metal Theft incident(s) is(are):
    • Discuss the need to categorise the different incidents and along which criteria.
    • Metal theft Lexicon, set of common definitions.
  • Describe the different sorts of existing incidents (along which criteria; such as modus operandi, location, length of cable, etc.) initially on the basis of “incidents” but setting relevant criteria to allow the development of a more comprehensive form of typology.
  • Analyse the collection of information processes of the different data collections and analysis methods used by the railway operating community.
  • Indicate what information should be collected for each type of incident.
  • Develop (specify the scope) the basis of a homogenous way of recording incidents.
  • Definition of a common set of Railway Metal Theft Indicators (RMTIs) to facilitate the assessment of the metal theft state of play and monitor its development in and between EU Member States.
  • Establishing principles for the analysis and synthesis of data:
    • what information is relevant for
      • Railway operating community
      • Law Enforcement Authorities
      • Crime Investigation bodies
      • Member States and EC/EU bodies

This ambitious but necessary work, as Mr Michael Will (EUROPOL - O22 Focal Point Furtum) referred to, will be very important to truly understand the nature of today’s metal theft phenomenon in Europe.

During his presentation to the UIC Metal Theft WG, Mr Michael Will explained that EUROPOL aims to support and strengthen the competent agencies of the EU MS in preventing and combating serious and organised crime and terrorism affecting at least two EU MS. He also clearly stated that metal theft is part of a wider set of “concerns” that cover many other criminal activities, but that due to the impacts caused in the last years, it has a “prominent” place on the agencies’ agendas.

This was clearly demonstrated during the last EUROPOL Metal Theft Joint Action Days (JAD), as the results show:

  • Participation of 18 EU Member States à AT, BE, BG, CY, DE,EE, ES, FI, FR,HU,IE, IT, LT, LUX, NL, PT, RO, SE.
  • Summary of the operational results from all involved:
  • Persons controlled: 58 289
  • Persons arrested: 266
  • Theft: 204
  • Vehicles controlled: 50 489
  • Vehicles seized: 30
  • Administrative checks: 7 045
  • Administrative fees: 4 378

So there is a need to further develop synergies aiming to share knowledge and experience and strengthen a network of practitioners belonging to law enforcement and the private sector, while looking for ways to improve the overall battle against metal theft. In addition, there are partnerships such as this to raise awareness, provide expertise and good practice, and allowing an exchange of ideas between all parties involved.

This was also shared by Mrs Susanne Kufled, Mr Gauthier Baijot (Corporate Security Service – SNCB) and Mr Hermann Schmidt (ÖBB-Business Competence Center GmbH-Security management), who provided a picture of the metal theft status quo on the German, Belgium and Austrian railway networks. (Specific data can be requested from subject to analysis and authorisation by the data owners).

In generic terms the number of thefts is decreasing. It varies between networks but in some cases there is a significant reduction and on average the direct cost impacts is higher. The “cold” explanation for this is provided by the law enforcement and criminal investigation, which attributes it to the fact the “opportunistic” theft is being stopped by the hard and soft measures implemented over the last years, but that “organised crime” still manages to target rail spots using large scale and well planned acts that lead to major impacts. Thus, changing the “rules of the game”, leading the railways, other sectors and law enforcement to reanalyse the effectiveness of the preventive and reactive measures in place, with regard to this reality.

The UIC Metal Theft WG members and partners continue to believe that only with a true collaborative effort can it be possible to reduce the impact of metal theft on the railways.

In line with that the UIC Metal Theft WG is supporting and developing the following technical initiatives:

  • Development of International Operational Security Meetings on Border-crossing Metal Theft Hot spots (coordinated between railway companies and national authorities)
  • Creation of a list of technical solutions against metal theft (current use for best practices)
  • The understanding of the global cost of Metal theft (assess and measure)
  • Creation of a map of Metal Theft on the Railways (EU railways network metal hotspots)
  • Border-crossing railway cable catalogue (for law enforcement and scrap metal dealers)

The UIC Metal Theft WG also is supporting wider initiatives such as CER suggested to the European Commission to introduce new measures, either amending the existing Directive 2008/98/EC on waste or proposing new European legislation, enforcing the Member States to introduce:

  • Licensing obligation for scrap metal business
  • A register of scrap metal dealer facilities
  • Identity check of the retailer/supplier (ID or passport, address,…)
  • Scrap Metal Record keeping
  • Police registers dedicated to scrap metal trade

In the framework of 2015, the UIC Metal Theft WG, together with the rail operating community and partners, will take all the actions above as far possible and be open to receiving inputs and information from all those interested in enhancing the capacity to combat this crime.

To know more about Metal Theft on the Railways and for further information please contact José Pires: