back to article Church roofs? Nyet, say Russian scrap thieves, we're taking this bridge

In parochial Blighty, it seems like a month doesn't go by without some ne'er-do-wells stealing a church roof to sell as scrap metal. But the UK's crims could learn a thing or two from their Russian counterparts, who have made off with an entire rail bridge. As shocking as that may sound initially, unlike churches – which often …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the Poles were at it before

    If I remember correctly, they lifted an (ex) railway bridge somewhere in south-west Poland a few years ago. It was very convenient for all parties involved, i.e. the thieves who dumped the load at the nearest scrapyard, police, because they shrugged, and the railway company, whichever was in charge of that stretch, because it gave them an excuse to not maintain the line any more.

    that said, Russians could claim "prior art" anyway, as they were known to dismantle whole factories, steel bridges, rip up railway tracks (hundreds of miles of), etc. in East Prussia and elsewhere, right after WW2.

    Now, back to the IT angle on that Russian bridge...

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: the Poles were at it before

      They lifted and shifted their entire industrial base east of the Urals in 1941.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the Poles were at it before

        That was how Krushchev made his reputation.

        Unfortunately after the War the USSR made such a poor job of moving stuff out of East Germany that they only succeeded in impoverishing it, while practically nothing they took was usable by the time it got back to Russia.

        The problem with the USSR wasn't so much that it was a rigidly controlled totalitarian dictatorship but that it was frequently an anarchic clusterfuck.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Coat

      Meanwhile, in "the Komi region"

      Psst - wanna buy a road, cheap?

      ...and right here in good ol' Pennsylvania, apparently

      The one with the spanner in the pocket...

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: The one with the spanner in the pocket...

        Can't I lever the lead out with one of those?

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: the Poles were at it before

      "Now, back to the IT angle on that Russian bridge."

      One word: Bootnotes.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the Poles were at it before

      The British army have also had a similar experience in Africa when a group came to collect an Army metal bridge. The groups were their to transport it another site and the commanding officers directed them to it. When the actual army team came to collect it there were a few red faces...

    5. Muppet Boss

      Re: the Poles were at it before

      What about scraping a nuclear power plant? There was one in Russia, Tatar Nuclear Power Plant, fully completed with reactor cores about to be installed. This never happened due to popular resistance and everything that could be stolen was stolen in early 90s, including 2 world-largest heavy-lift Kroll K-10000 Danish cranes for loading the cores.

      Makes a good paintball arena now, very surreal, e.g. https://vk.com/album-8118322_84205260

  2. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Who would steal a bridge?

    An arch-villain.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      with a good attention span

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      One with a beam?

    3. fishman

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      When caught, would he be put in suspension?

    4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      This is riveting stuff... Though now it looks like more scrap yards are getting ropey.

      Mines the one with the map to Galloping Gertie in the pocket.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Galloping Gertie

        If GG was rated 10 on a scale of 1-10 for resonance, which bridge would be at 1?

        The Tamar Bridge.

    5. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      or to pay reparations to a camel.

      ...you know, to give it its hump-back.

    6. Bill Gray
      Pint

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      I'd say it would take a thief with a lot of metal... someone without pier.

      My compliments to the other contributors on this subject. I can always count on finding some towering punsters on these fora.

    7. chivo243 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      His crimes span countries, when he's caught, he'll do a stretch... after time his sentence will be suspended.

      you go better afer af ew

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who would steal a bridge?

        Some of these remind me of the Bridge of Sighs.

    8. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      "Who would steel a bridge?"

      There, FTFY

    9. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: Who would steal a bridge?

      I'm the archbishop of Catenary, for Christ's sake. Keeping you in suspense is my business!

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Who would steal a bridge?

        So you pontificate?

        Mine's the one with a copy of The Etymologicon in the pocket.

        1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

          Re: Who would steal a bridge?

          So you pontificate?

          To the max, my child.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Used to work for a large South African bank and was often told by visiting staff that the locals were always stealing chunks of overhead copper cabling running between townships. Apparently, they used to to make bangles and other touristy knick-knacks and didn't really care that it knocked out communications between towns. This was back in the 80's and 90's, so pre-internet when telephones were de-rigor.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Sometimes, that "overhead copper cabling" is energized...and the problem solves itself.

      1. herman Silver badge

        De rigor mortis.

    2. John Savard Silver badge

      "de rigeur", please!

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
        Headmaster

        When correcting someone, it's de rigueur to correctly spell the correction.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          if the copper was energized, the thief would have de rigor.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      One of the incentives to replace copper cables with glass fibre is price of copper – significantly more lucrative than steel and usually in handy sizes that can be coiled for transport.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        FAIL

        Unfortunately, the copper thieves aren't bright enough to tell the fiber cables from the copper ones...

        1. Muppet Boss

          Oh they are indeed, from experience. Replacing copper with fibre was one best thing to stop all this. You see, the copper thieves don't work for nothing..

    4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      The modus operadi of the South African copper thieves was to shimmy up a pole and cut the lowest cable with a hacksaw, then go to the next pole and cut the loose end as high up as the thief could reach. The lowest cable on suburban power poles was the neutral wire, so the thief got away without being electrocuted.

      Cutting the neutral left the houses downstream of the break with a floating supply - the neutral of all the houses were connected together but not referenced to anything except the other houses. Which was fine if the load of the 3 phases was exactly balanced, but if someone in one house switched on a high-power device, the voltage in all houses supplied from that phase would drop down, while houses on the other two phases would get a voltage increase, probably blowing a lot of fuses and appliances - unbalancing the load further and so increasing the voltage even more.

  4. Terry 6 Silver badge

    UK scrap yards

    I thought that UK scrapyards all had to be licensed, documented etc. these days so that all the scrap was traceable

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: UK scrap yards

      That's UK scrap yards not Russians.

      The metal in speed signs was the tipping point since they're made from very good quality aluminium alloy and cost abit to replace.

      1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        Re: UK scrap yards

        Eh? How many bytes in an abit? I like the thought of an abit, alot.

        1. The First Dave Silver badge

          Re: UK scrap yards

          Very useful thing, is an abit - decimal value of 97 in just one bit.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: UK scrap yards

      Good point...

  5. martinusher Silver badge

    The US has also had its issues

    Twenty years ago Amtrak's Sunset Limited was crossing the Arizona desert in the middle of the night when it came off the track -- or rather, a section of the track had gone missing. To this day nobody knows what happened; the track that branched to Phoenix from the Southern Pacific main line was only used by the three Amtrak trains a week and the track itself was in the middle of nowhere.

    Because of a note found at the scene it was thought that the track was lifted by some weird militia group. (Personally, I think it was a communications screwup -- that section of line was due to be taken out of service, someone got the date wrong and there was much CYA all round...but that's just my theory.)

    Nicking metal from the railways in te UK has a long and storied history. Thieves don't bother with stealing track because its too heavy and not worth very much as scrap but they really like anything copper.

    1. John McCallum

      Re: The US has also had its issues

      Oh and what about that track that disappeared in South Yorkshire HMMM.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: The US has also had its issues

        Did the suspect answer to the name of 'Beeching'?

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The US has also had its issues

      I have heard, that driving into a scrapyard (in the US at least) with a length of rail will get the attention of the railroad police rather quickly. And the Homeland Security folks shortly thereafter. Even the scrappies aren't stupid enough to get mixed up in that.

    3. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: The US has also had its issues

      The US still has issues, actually. At one point a couple years ago, there was a roaring trade in scrap copper from split-system air conditioner units, specifically the compressor side- thieves would rip our the unit, toss it into a waiting pickup truck, and run down to the nearest scrapyard and sell it for cash.

      It got to the point where scrapyards stopped accepting them entirely unless certain things were done to prove that they were not stolen.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The US has also had its issues

        "It got to the point where scrapyards stopped accepting them entirely unless certain things were done to prove that they were not stolen."

        Presumably so they could offer a lower price?

  6. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Coat

    Glad to hear that nicking railroad and other stuff is not limited to south africa.

    Ready to emigrate to Mars where there's no ne'er-do-wells yet.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Ready to emigrate to Mars where there's no ne'er-do-wells yet.

      You'll be the first ;)

      1. jake Silver badge

        amfM might argue that point.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Why? He does no good very well ;)

  7. Zarno
    Devil

    Wake the dead.

    After reading the linked church roof article, my main thought was thus: "Surely stealing that much lead would make enough noise, for long enough, to possibly raise the dead?"

    A bridge over frigid waters is a new one to hear about though.

    Icon because, well, it fits.

  8. Michael Hoffmann
    Coat

    Fred Colon was right!

    For years and years he would patrol the bridges over the Ankh in case an international gang of bridge thieves would suddenly strike. Then he, Sergeant Fred Colon would be right on them (after finishing his smoko and only if he had Captain Carrot with him, but still)!

    That's preemptive policing that is!

    (coat with the Ankh-Morpork watch badge in the pocket)

  9. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Ah, the old ones are the best

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/man-who-sold-eiffel-tower-twice-180958370/

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the old ones are the best

      (or slightly more to the point)

  10. david 12 Bronze badge

    Or even more to the point, Brooklyn Bridge:

    https://curiosity.com/topics/americas-greatest-conman-sold-the-brooklyn-bridge-twice-a-week-for-years-curiosity/

  11. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    God needs to get the lead out

    Crims, right there on the roof of his own house!

    No booming voice

    No thunder crack

    No lightning strike

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: God needs to get the lead out

      Do you interfere with your own ant farm, or do you just watch them and laugh as you introduce red ants to the black ant colony?

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: God needs to get the lead out

      The lord works in mysterious ways.

      The lowlifes obviously need the money far more than the church does - allowing them to nick the lead is basically charity.

      Or maybe, just maybe, God doesn't actually exist.

  12. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Lead

    When I first read the headline reference to church roofs, I wondered how the Russians had managed to construct a bridge out of lead.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Lead

      Wouldn't surprise me if they did use lead in bridges ... You ever try to ship Soviet knock-offs of Western machine tools? Heavy is an understatement.

  13. vulture65537

    > swipe the remaining 23m-long, 56-tonne metal structure of the central span

    It's like the man said: "Sixty feet of bridge I can get almost anywhere."

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065938/quotes/qt0474851

    1. jake Silver badge

      Take that underwear off your head, eh? Enough is enough.

  14. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    So..

    These guys really COULD sell you a bridge...

  15. Tikimon Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Stealing whole SHIPS from the seafloor

    In the Pacific, several shipwrecks from World War II have entirely disappeared. Whole ships, leaving only an impression on the seafloor. The process continues. Bastards.

    https://www.outsideonline.com/2168646/how-does-entire-shipwreck-disappear-bolts-and-all

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