Extra patrols also helped to reduce trackside metal thefts, police said
The recession has helped to reduce the number of metal thefts across the Northumbria Police area, officers say.
Over the past year there has been a 60% drop in reported incidents in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, according to latest force figures.
Det Supt Peter Farrell said over the past two months alone, there had been 228 fewer offences than the same period in 2008.
He said falling prices, due to the economic downturn, had stifled demand.
Thieves keen to cash in on soaring metal prices last year targeted rail tracks, churches, manhole covers, copper piping and even war memorials.
Mr Farrell said: "We have tackled criminals when they are stealing metal, when they are transporting it and where the marketplace is.
"But this is a global situation and the market value of metals has declined rapidly as well.
"So when you combine our approach, our work with partners and the recession, they have come together to suppress the marketplace for metals and therefore make it less attractive to criminals."
A spokesman for Nexus, which runs the Tyne and Wear Metro, said between 2005 and 2008 it had suffered 18 incidents where trackside cabling had been stolen.
But he said so far this year just one incident had been reported.