Fare dodgers

THIEVES stole a ticket machine from a railway station platform - leaving a £30,000 trail of damage in their wake. The machine was ripped out at Ashwell & Morden Station on Tuesday night last week when the gang, believed to number five or six, wrapped a me

THIEVES stole a ticket machine from a railway station platform - leaving a £30,000 trail of damage in their wake.

The machine was ripped out at Ashwell & Morden Station on Tuesday night last week when the gang, believed to number five or six, wrapped a metal chain around the unit and fastened the other end to a truck.

The machine was then torn from its bolts and dragged across the platform and up an embankment, demolishing a wall, railings, and a fence in the process.

The thieves then drove off in the direction of Ashwell.

However, despite their efforts, they got away with little cash as the ticket machine had only been emptied the day before.

Robert Beahan of First Capital Connect said: "We estimate the cost of the damage to be about £30,000.

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"Thankfully, the ticket machine had been emptied so there would not have been much money in it.

"It has been an inconvenience and we will replace the machine as soon as we can."

Commuter Peter Stojic of Guilden Morden said: "I was there when the station opened at 6.30am, and all the commuters were shocked at the extent of the damage.

"There was a lot of mess, but staff quickly made the area safe.

"However, I almost missed my train, because the queue at the ticket office was pretty long.

"The criminals have certainly been stupid. Most people use credit cards rather than cash, so they can't have got away with much!"

Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire police have been liaising with each other in case other stations are targeted.

- In the meantime, customers are being encouraged to buy tickets from the station's ticket office which is open on weekday mornings.

At other times rail travellers can obtain tickets either on board the train or at their destination station.