The gang was caught by British Transport Police officers following a tip-off from local rail contractors.
Iulian Baston of Ilford Lane, Ilford, Constantin Levarda of Brent Park Road, Brent Cross and Ioan Fartaes of Morley Avenue, Wood Green, were sentenced at Harrow Crown Courtlast week after being found guilty of going equipped to steal at an earlier trial.
Police received a report from railway contractors that lengths of cable had been cut and hidden in undergrowth near to the tracks in Pinner.
Officers in plain clothes staked-out the and saw the three men approach at about 10pm. The men could provide no adequate explanation before a search of them and their vehicle found a hacksaw a pair of metal cutters and pairs of heavy-duty gloves.
BTP Sergeant Mike Hender, investigating, said: “We arrested the men after they couldn’t provide us with a satisfactory explanation of what they were doing near to the rail line at that time of night
“They also couldn’t explain why we found a hacksaw and cutting tools in their car – evidence which sealed their convictions.
“Crime which involves the theft or attempted theft of railway cable attracts strong penalties and I hope the jail sentences handed to these three men will act as a deterrent to others.”
His Honour Judge Holt, describing the impact of cable theft on Britain as he sentenced the men, said: “It gnaws away at the economic wellbeing of this country.
“It has only just been widely publicised that 1,969 trains were cancelled in the last 6 months alone as a result of cable theft.
“Thousands of passengers are inconvenienced by this. They are late for work and miss hospital appointments.
“In my view the only sentence that I can pass is one of immediate custody to deter others.”