A luggage thief who struck twice within three hours, stealing bags from trains travelling between Newport and Swansea, has been jailed for 16 months.
Steven Martin Kaged targeted passengers on board two separate Great Western Railway services during the afternoon of Thursday, 20 July. He first stole a bag containing a laptop and jewellery before boarding a second train less than three hours later to pinch a suitcase.
The total value of both bags was around £1,200.
He was caught as part of a 10-week British Transport Police operation to tackle theft of passenger property along the South Wales mainline.
Operation Red Willow involved specialist plain clothes and uniform officers patrolling on trains at key times. Neighbourhood policing teams from Cardiff and Swansea carried out further reassurance and intelligence gathering patrols, and also held engagement events on trains and at mainline stations between Newport and Swansea, advising passengers on the best ways to look after their property while travelling.
As well as Kaged, a further three arrests were made as part of the operation, all for possession of Class A drugs. Two men – Michael Daniel Simms, aged 35, of London Road, Neath; and 36-year-old Nigel Huw Edwards, of Mount Pleasant Cottages, Llangeinor, Bridgend – have been charged to appear in court, while a 40-year-old Neath woman is due to receive a caution.
Appearing at Cardiff Crown Court on 14 September, Kaged, aged 35, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for both offences and was also ordered to pay £140 victim surcharge.
Sergeant Ben Randall-Webb from the Cardiff-based Proactive CID team, who headed up Operation Red Willow, said:
“We’re really pleased with how the operation has gone. Not only have we removed a known thief from the rail network and put him behind bars, but we have also managed to further deter the flow of drugs. There is a clear link between the buying and selling of drugs and the theft of people’s property, so it’s pleasing to be able to disrupt this activity and make trains and stations a safer place for everyone.
“It wasn’t just about making arrests though. The combination of covert and high-visibility patrols allowed us to reassure passengers and rail staff and gather intelligence in equal measure. One of our key aims was to raise awareness among the travelling public about the common tactics used by thieves and how they can help prevent themselves from becoming a victim of crime, and the operation gave us a great platform to do this.
“We also managed to identify and recover two phones from lost property that had previously been reported stolen. We were then able to match these with their rightful owners, who were naturally delighted to have them back having all but given up hope of seeing them again.”