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British Transport Police (BTP) officers are appealing for information after criminal damage at a level crossing in Southampton that could have had 'potentially catastrophic' consequences.
At 7.12am on Monday, 12 March, BTP received a report from Network Rail of potential cable theft at a level crossing on Frost Lane in Hythe. It transpired that around 530m of cable had been stolen from the location sometime between Sunday, 11 March and the discovery on Monday morning.
Network Rail staff on scene then reported discovering extensive criminal damage at the same crossing, with the crossing barriers jammed open with wooden planks and the red warning lights smashed.
The crossing is used infrequently by freight trains, but is used fairly regularly by cars and other vehicles.
Officers based at Southampton BTP station on Blechynden Terrace are investigating the incident. Inspector Mick Morriss said: "We're currently examining whether the cable theft and the criminal damage are linked and are treating these incidents very seriously.
"The consequences simply do not bear thinking about. Had any vehicles used the crossing while a train passed through it could have been potentially catastrophic, because with the warning lights and crossing barriers disabled there would have been no way for motorists to know that a train was coming.
"Our enquiries are currently ongoing and we'll do everything we can to try and trace those responsible for this appalling and reckless act of criminal damage.
"If you were in the area and saw anything suspicious, or have any information that could help our investigation, please get in touch."
Anyone with information should contact BTP on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 65 of 12 March. Alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.