Two people have admitted their part in a £2m copper cable theft conspiracy from the railway system.
The scam, against Network Rail, is claimed to involve 27 separate thefts of cabling between October 2010 and March last year, and a total of seven people have been accused of being involved.
Five people, including a South Tyneside woman, are due back in court later this month to enter pleas.
Laura Harris, 27, of Froude Avenue, South Shields, Robert Baker, 28, of Eastbourne Square, James Curry, 28, of Calshot Road, Boden Hughes, 26, of Fulwell Road and George Pascoe, 38, of Rowlandson Terrace, all Sunderland, are due at Newcastle Crown Court on March 26.
The trial, which is due to take place on September 8, could last up to six weeks.
Meanwhile, Darren Jones, 44, of no fixed address and Anthony Innins, 41, of Plumtree Avenue, Sunderland, both pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to steal this week.
The two men will be sentenced after the trial of their five co-accused, which is due to take place on September 8.
The court heard during an earlier hearing an investigation by the British Transport Police into the alleged conspiracy involved examination of phone records, cell site analysis, records from scrap merchants and vehicle hire agreements.
Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said then: “All defendants have been sent in relation to a conspiracy to steal various types of copper cabling used by network rail.
“I believe it involves 27 separate incidents.
“The prosecution evidence is in relation to cell site analysis, hiring of vehicles, weighing in of copper at scrap metal dealerships and associated evidence.”