Money gained from stealing cabling from the Belgian railway system is being used to build “sumptuous mansions” in Romania, according to Belgian prosecutors. According to news service l’avenir.net, the materials stolen from SNCB (Belgian Railways) are sold as scrap, with organized criminal groups coordinating large scale operations.
Prosecutor Philippe Dujardin of Charleroi in Belgium said, “We only catch the small fry. In Romania, entire neighborhoods are built with the money from SNCB. They are in lawless areas where there are real mafia type criminal bosses,” quoted by l’avenir.net.
Philippe Dujardin said that stricter controls on the scrap metal trade imposed in 2009 had improved the situation, but when the restrictions were later relaxed, the levels of theft rose again. He said the current system is proving ineffective in tacking the thieves.
As well as costing SNCB a lot of money and causing disruption to services, the thefts in some cases could cause rail accidents or electrocute passengers, according to Mr Dujardin. He also said the thieves themselves are imperiling their lives when stealing cables.