High security fencing may come in useful in the fight against copper thefts, which one union boss believes is a problem that needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, emphasised that if the situation is allowed to continue, the economy will suffer.

"If a chunk of the excessive profits of the train companies was invested in visible staffing, track patrols and security, we could get a grip on this criminal disruption to rail services," he suggested.

Mr Crow stressed that the issue is now out of control and that the country as a whole cannot sit back and watch as thieves continue to steal at the expense of others.

The theft of metal gates has also escalated over the past 12 months due to rising metal prices, the BBC recently reported, with incidents increasing 52 per cent between April 2010 and 2011.

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