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Railway cable-related offences such as theft, attempted theft or malicious damage in England, Wales and Scotland jumped 67 per cent in 2010/2011 from the previous year, data from the British Transport Police showed.

The number of cable-related thefts in the financial year running from April 2010 to March 2011 rose to 3,116 from 1,870 in the previous 12 months.

Cabling used on Britain's railway structure is made mostly of copper, prices of which have surged in recent months.

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"The rise essentially is down to the cost of metal on world markets," said Glyn Hellam, a media and marketing manager at the British Transport Police.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange trading at around $9,000 (U.S.) a tonne is down from the record high of $10,190 a tonne hit on February 15, but that is about three times the levels seen in December 2008.

"(The rise in thefts) are not really surprising given the high level of copper prices we've seen, particularly during the first quarter of this year," said David Wilson, analyst at Societe Generale.

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