When thieves repeatedly targeted the Motorail UK site at Long Marston in Warwickshire it seemed like easy pickings.
However the criminals reckoned without chief executive, Ruth Flack, her husband Colin and an assorted posse of special forces friends from the military. In a daring midnight operation, the trap was sprung and police ambushed the gang, hunted them down with dogs and a helicopter and captured them. The thieves were after copper found in locomotives stabled on the site.
Says Ruth Flack, ‘The thieves targeted us over a period of weeks. They managed to breach the security fencing using metal cutting equipment. During one particular evening a 200 metre section of our overhead line was cut down and stolen.’
Security was ramped up but the thieves continued to target Long Marston, probing our defences and looking for material to steal. ‘These attacks culminated in a theft on a Monday night which was the final straw. I knew that something had to be done to stop these people and to help the police force in their efforts to catch them,’ says Ruth.
Former Army officer Colin Flack, CEO Rail Alliance, is a former Army officer whose career saw him serve in a variety of operational theatres across the globe. Ruth herself is the former Head of Operations for a Ministry of Defence munitions disposal agency. ‘Given both of our backgrounds we have many friends who are ex-military and highly skilled. I decided it was time to ask for help.’
The Flacks and their friends mounted a surveillance operation at Long Marston using their CCTV, thermal imaging equipment and what Colin calls “his Mk 1 Eyeballs”.
Ruth says, ‘We worked closely with the police to prepare for the next attack and in the early hours of Sunday morning they decided to attempt another serious theft. Warwickshire police were alerted and they responded with a highly professional team consisting of a firearms unit, dog handler, mobile units and police helicopter. In quick time the gang of five was arrested, detained and charged.’
Ruth Flack thanked Warwickshire Police. ‘The police have been supporting us over the past four weeks and together we had an agreed plan of action should we need to call them.
‘It was great to watch this very professional team of officers in action. We have the highest regard for them. It is comforting to know that this level of response is there when you really need it.’
The couple live at Long Marston. Says Colin, ‘It’s been a spectacular success and a great piece of work by my wife who pulled it all together – I reverted to type and became a foot soldier again. We have not really slept properly for weeks.
However we can now sleep a little easier knowing that our rather unusual approach to metal theft is this effective.’