Thieves Steal An Entire Metal Bridge in Pennsylvania

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Courtesy WFMJ

A video screenshot from WFMJ shows where the bridge was spliced from its foundation.

It’s one of the strangest – and most unwieldy – thefts we’ve ever come across. Police in a small western Pennsylvania town are searching for a missing steel bridge.

Salvaging scrap metal is nothing new. But most thieves go for easy targets like piping, gutters and even manhole covers. A 50-foot-long bridge made of impossibly heavy steel doesn’t quite fit into that same category. But some enterprising criminals managed to haul away the bridge from North Beaver Township, Pa., about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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The 40-ton bridge, tucked away on an access road at an industrial park in the sparsely populated area near the Ohio border, isn’t very heavily trafficked. But its disappearance is obvious, not least because it’s worth an estimated $100,000.

The most likely scenario is that the thieves used a blowtorch to cut apart the bridge and haul it away. New Castle Development, who owns the property, remembers the bridge being there on Sept. 27. But sometime in the past 10 days, it disappeared. New Castle Development spokesman Gary Bruce told WFMJ, “I thought that with the rain it got washed away.”

But that’s quite a tall tale for the bridge that’s been standing since the early 1900s. The bridge was lifted off its foundation, marks visible where the metal was ripped from its supports. “Its old beams are probably hundreds and hundreds of pounds per foot,” Robert Obed, who lives in the area, told WTAE. But metal thefts aren’t uncommon in the area. Coincidentally enough, the bridge was recently closed because of copper thefts nearby.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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