Cable theft from railways is up 70% according to figures released by the British Transport Police.
But overall railway crime fell by 2.9% in 2010/11, the seventh successive annual decrease.
The statistics also show a 2.8% drop in violent offences and there were 1.6% fewer robberies.
“The continued reduction in crime is very good news, but economics is having its effect,” said BTP Chief Constable Andy Trotter.
“We know that during difficult economic times acquisitive crime is likely to increase, and these figures show that.
“Cable theft is a real challenge for us, the rail industry and other utilities. The record price of metals on world markets has made this type of crime seem increasingly attractive, although the actual returns to the thieves are pretty modest.”
There were 2,712 cable thefts in the period from April 1 2010 to March 31 2011, compared with 1,593 in the previous 12 months.