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Troubled Waters ahead - Bridge Out - 500FT
October 18, 2011 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Thieves steal entire bridge in New Castle [PA]. Motivated by the high premuim for recycled metal, and perhaps an entrepreneurial spirit, brothers Alexander and Benjamin Jones were arrested on charges of deconstructing and selling an entire bridge in rural Pennsylvania for scrap. "This is a national problem," says Trooper Joseph Vascetti, an investigator with the Pennsylvania State Police. "Every police agency in the country is having a problem with it."
posted by obscurator (84 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you believe this story, then I've got a bridge to sell you.

Oh hey that doesn't work anymore.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:02 AM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was at home last spring when this seedy-looking guy came up to the door and asked us if we'd like him to take away our pile of junk. We asked if he was going to charge us, he said no, he'd be back tomorrow for it.

The next day we come home and find he'd taken most of our pile of junk, left behind anything non-metallic, taken a couple of our bicycles, and left us a (broken) large CRT TV.

Kneecapping is too good for these louts.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


“Sergeant Colon of the Ankh-Morpork City Guard was on duty. He was guarding the Brass Bridge, the main link between Ankh and Morpork. From theft.

When it came to crime prevention, Sergeant Colon found it safest to think big.”

― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


Sometimes reality just gives you the perfect metaphor for the Rust Belt.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. And I thought the guys stealing streetlights were industrious.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2011


deconstructing and selling an entire bridge in rural Pennsylvania

Amateurs. As someone with a cultural studies degree I can to that in my sleep!
posted by mobunited at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


Gotta admire the ingenuity. If it was a couple MIT kids who moved a bridge we would be saying how awesome it is. But once you sell it, it suddenly becomes a crime or something. Talk about a double standard.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Tomorrow night, they'll find the bridge where it was. Except it'll be re-assembled into a giant middle finger with the words "FUCK YOU, DAVID COPPERFIELD - CRISS ANGEL" welded into the base.
posted by griphus at 10:12 AM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oooo...time for a "war on bridge theft." But...we might really need those bridges.
posted by telstar at 10:18 AM on October 18, 2011


Rotting infrastructure? Have we got a solution for you!
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:20 AM on October 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


As someone with a cultural studies degree I can to that in my sleep!

The bridge was just a metaphor for the author's inability to find a decent cigar in rural Pennsylvania.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:25 AM on October 18, 2011


deconstructing and selling an entire bridge in rural Pennsylvania

This word, I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:26 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This kind of thing is typical in third world countries..
posted by stbalbach at 10:26 AM on October 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


This kind of thing is typical in third world countries..

...such as Pennsylvania.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:29 AM on October 18, 2011 [21 favorites]


Quick let's cut taxes for the job creators. That will solve this problem!
posted by oddman at 10:31 AM on October 18, 2011 [22 favorites]


The bridge was just a metaphor for the economy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:32 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another case of excessive government regulation hurting the small business owner.
posted by logicpunk at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Next gen console game: Grand Theft Infrastructure?
posted by yeloson at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


job creators
On the plus side, the theft has created a job for Ken Block.
posted by obscurator at 10:34 AM on October 18, 2011


"This kind of thing is typical in third world countries."

"Every police agency in the country is having a problem with it."

Quod erat demonstrandum, baby. (ooh, you speak French!)
posted by Naberius at 10:35 AM on October 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hey, at least with this kind of theft, we create some jobs building new bridges. Beats the wholesale looting of the Treasury by Wall Street and Halliburton by miles.
posted by Malor at 10:45 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


These criminals went...

*Takes off sunglasses*

A bridge too far... (cue The Who)
posted by drezdn at 10:46 AM on October 18, 2011 [17 favorites]


This relates to the Occupy Wall St. Protests, lack of both collective responsibility and respect for public goods.
posted by Silo004 at 10:46 AM on October 18, 2011


Good point. They should rename the movement to: Dismantle Wall Street and Sell it for Scrap
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:48 AM on October 18, 2011 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I know a guy who is into the scrapping thing. Did the "I'll take away your junk for you." thing. He recently was arrested for trying to steal 100 feet of copper wiring from alongside the tracks at the local train station.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:49 AM on October 18, 2011


Good point. They should rename the movement to: Dismantle Wall Street and Sell it for Scrap

That bull could go for a pretty penny.

Maybe just take the balls.
posted by The Whelk at 10:50 AM on October 18, 2011


Yeah, there are some real scum out there.

My ex-girlfriend grew up on a Century Farm, in the family for over 100 years. She told me that one day a guy knocked on their door and asked if he could cut up a fallen tree on their property, and haul it away for firewood. They said OK. A few days later, she drove by the site and noticed the fallen tree was still there.. but a massive, ancient, live walnut tree was gone. She checked around the local farm community and discovered there were other reports of expensive hardwood trees being cut down and stolen.

I was shocked to hear there was such a thing as tree rustlers, but bridge rustlers, jeez.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:50 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sounds like the work of V.I.L.E. Now if only a bystander could tell us what color hair the thief had.
posted by theodolite at 10:55 AM on October 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Dismantle Wall Street and Sell it for Scrap

Not sure what you get for the scrap, but it should do real well as fertilizer (although it might poison the ground water too).
posted by doctor_negative at 10:55 AM on October 18, 2011


deconstructing and selling an entire bridge in rural Pennsylvania...Amateurs. As someone with a cultural studies degree I can do that in my sleep!

This word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

These words, they never fully summon forth what you think they mean, for they can only be defined through appeal to additional words, from which they differ. Thus, meaning is forever postponed through an endless chain of signifiers.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:57 AM on October 18, 2011 [21 favorites]


You think that's bad? In RI, there was a cow loose on the Jamestown Bridge! That's an infrastructure problem you don't see every day....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:59 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Signify Peace
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:00 AM on October 18, 2011


Quod erat demonstrandum, baby. (ooh, you speak French!)

Oh my god, I love you. Airhead.
posted by mykescipark at 11:00 AM on October 18, 2011


Getting permission to clear a downed tree and then felling a different, live one isn't quite the same as offering to clear somebody's random junk and then only taking the valuable parts. Both are dishonest, sure, but one's theft and the other is just, "Damn, that guy didn't take all my junk away for free like he offered. Now I have to clear-out...less stuff."
posted by red clover at 11:01 AM on October 18, 2011


It didn't seem like the bicycles in that story were supposed to be junk.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:03 AM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, look. It's either they steal the bridge, or they go the Full Monty. Which do you prefer?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:05 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So far all the anecdotes have involved actual theft.
posted by kmz at 11:05 AM on October 18, 2011


"Next gen console game: Grand Theft Infrastructure?"

I think that's Katamari.
posted by klangklangston at 11:19 AM on October 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


Metal theft is getting serious. Trains frequently come to a halt in the UK because of thieves nicking the copper wires
posted by ComfySofa at 11:22 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dangit, came to make the "Sgt Colon" joke and found someone already has.
posted by FritoKAL at 11:24 AM on October 18, 2011


And none of the water distribution system is functioning either (vandals, handles).
posted by Grimgrin at 11:27 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't it kind of sad that the sort of guys that could cut up, transport and sell a 40 ton bridge find that the best use of their time is to cut up, transport and sell a 40 ton bridge.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 11:29 AM on October 18, 2011 [26 favorites]


I've heard of people stealing manhole covers, but stealing a bridge leaves things much more hazardous. yow.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:30 AM on October 18, 2011


Dangit, came to make the "Sgt Colon" joke and found someone already has.

Carmen Sandiego joke: also taken.

My life is without purpose.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:30 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a lot of money to be made recycling scrap metal (note how many large edifices in the US Northwest have the Schnitzer name), so until society as a whole can discourage the buying of stolen metals, to turn around for a profit, this will continue.
posted by Danf at 11:31 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does this explain why the Dukes were always coming up on roads that ended in bridgeless ravines that they needed to jump?

Because that seemed like a real infrastructure issue in Hazzard county.
posted by quin at 11:32 AM on October 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


I can say for a fact that the author is a really good drummer. Didn't have the time to commit to the band . . .
posted by Ironmouth at 11:33 AM on October 18, 2011


These guys continually patrol our city with handmade carts and often just discarded baby carriages, grabbing what they can from people's trash and rolling it away. Which is cool if it prevents recyclable materials from having to be carried to the dump and left to rust, and I don't begrudge them the few zloty they get for hauling heavy trash across town in handcarts, but some of them will also steal anything metallic they can pry loose and carry away. You could probably stop a lot of that by closing the scrapyards in town, but then you'd have unemployed scrapyard workers roaming the streets with better prying, cutting, and hauling equipment.
posted by pracowity at 11:44 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bang your head. Metal Theft will drive you mad.
posted by dr_dank at 11:47 AM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


the real scandal that no one seems willing to investigate is how Acme Bridge Builders keeps getting awarded these no-bid contracts whenever these bridges mysteriously disappear.
posted by any major dude at 11:55 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


until society as a whole can discourage the buying of stolen metals,

Something i've been wondering, yeah the people stealing are bad, but what about the people who are buying it? It's usually pretty damn clear it's stolen, go after the buyers just as much. Same with pawn shops, seems to be the most seedy business, and i've sold a couple things back in the day, but still felt gross in there.
posted by usagizero at 11:58 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the article: You can even see the marks left where thieves used a blowtorch to detach the grating and steal beams.

(Emphasis mine.)
posted by andreaazure at 12:06 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jindal's way of cutting down on illegal scrappers. Hopelessly broad, of course. But if I never hear of this again, I could come down in support of a carefully crafted law to stop the trade in stolen metals.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:06 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


A local farmer around here saw some lights in his field, and went out to find guys with oxy-acetylene cutting torchs cutting up his farm equipment.
posted by 445supermag at 12:10 PM on October 18, 2011


Jindal
posted by infini at 12:10 PM on October 18, 2011


Scrap metal dealers are, as a group, scum, as far as I can tell. No questions asked, generally.
posted by maxwelton at 12:15 PM on October 18, 2011


Are Bobby Jindal and Jindal Steel actually related? Bobby's a dumbass and an asshole, but I'm not seeing anything connecting him to Jindal Steel.
posted by kmz at 12:24 PM on October 18, 2011


great, pracowity, now i'm thinking about what happens when the armies of recyclable gleaners get it in their skulls that they can go for scrap too.
posted by beefetish at 12:25 PM on October 18, 2011


Nothing to see here, folks. Just the entrepreneurial spirit of America blossoming and spreading its wings across this great land of ours, in innovative response to deeply-challenging times.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:31 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


kmz - I don't think so, I googled jindal to find out who it was and that was the first hit and it said "steel power"... thus I could not resist given the topic at hand
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on October 18, 2011


furiousxgeorge: "It didn't seem like the bicycles in that story were supposed to be junk."

No, and he left us a CRT TV that we now have to pay to get rid of.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:35 PM on October 18, 2011


We're dismantling the bridge to tomorrow and selling it for scrap. Seems about right.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:37 PM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Gee, and here I thought metafilter LIKED recycling!
posted by happyroach at 12:43 PM on October 18, 2011


Something i've been wondering, yeah the people stealing are bad, but what about the people who are buying it? It's usually pretty damn clear it's stolen, go after the buyers just as much.

There is a legitimate market in recycled steel, even of large structures like this. And most scrap metal places, at least around here, won't take certian things (eg beer kegs, lamp posts, street signs).
posted by Mitheral at 1:52 PM on October 18, 2011


Those thieves sure knew how to make a splash.
posted by argonauta at 1:57 PM on October 18, 2011


The sentence missing from this story is, "Police say they are looking for a group of people incredibly high on meth."
posted by jocelmeow at 2:36 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wanted to make a joke about Magneto in X3, but he didn't steal the bridge so much as break it in half and bend it to Alcatraz. Also, X-3 blew.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:47 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh Mageneto, that's your answer to everything, just throw flaming cars at the problem.
posted by The Whelk at 2:48 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Any metal that a magnet will stick to, you'll need a whole bridge of it to make it worth your while. Concentrate on stainless, copper, and aluminum.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:07 PM on October 18, 2011


If it was a couple MIT kids who moved a bridge we would be saying how awesome it is. But once you sell it, it suddenly becomes a crime or something. Talk about a double standard.

When a junkie steals a bridge the reaction is "Wow, that's impressive, but what a bunch of dicks"

If a couple MIT kids moved a bridge and refused to return it the reaction would be "Wow, that's impressive, but what a bunch of dicks"

If a couple MIT kids moved a bridge as a prank and intended to rebuild it I think there would be concern for damage and losses, but to some extent it could be brushed away. "Wow, that's impressive, but I hope they covered all their bases and didn't cause any inconvenience or damage"

I see no double standard here.
posted by ilikemefi at 3:10 PM on October 18, 2011


Umm, StickyCarpet, magnets stick to stainless steel.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:15 PM on October 18, 2011


You know, folks, its actually quite a bad sign that we are systematically stripping our infrastructure of it's base metals to melt them down for other uses. That is really the sort of thing that you associate with declining empires (read towards the end).
posted by Avenger at 3:35 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looks like they caught the guys...
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:49 PM on October 18, 2011


Looks like they caught the guys...

Whoa, was it brothers Alexander and Benjamin Jones? ; )
posted by orme at 4:35 PM on October 18, 2011


Purposeful Grimace writes "Umm, StickyCarpet, magnets stick to stainless steel."

Some Stainless, Most of the stuff scrappers pay extra for won't hold a magnet.
posted by Mitheral at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2011


you know, when I lived in the city, I was roughly 1 mile (though a mile in the city is far different than a mile in suburbia, but still) from a major scrap/recycling yard. which was located adjacent to a steel mill where I'm pretty sure it was turned directly into new raw material. there could be days where literally hundreds of these pickups that looked like they were re-assembled using some of the recovered scrap metal were lined up waiting to cash in. any manner of things would be stuffed into their beds: shelving, bikes, appliances, pieces of other cars, etc. and i'd see these trucks endlessly going up/down alleys at all hours, collecting. it struck me as form of the literal definition of bottom-feeding. surviving on the fall-off created by the rest of the population. and I don't say that in a negative way. i don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with collecting detritus that would otherwise needlessly occupy landfill space and returning it to the production cycle.

a documentary on the subject

thing is, I am also having trouble caring that much that some enterprising young folks took it upon themselves to remove a rotting, unused collection of metal in the middle of the woods and let the area more of less become nature again (even if their motives had nothing to do with Pennsylvania's ecology). i mean c'mon, it didn't even have a paved road leading up to it. yes, stealing is stealing, but sooner or later I'd imagine the developer would have had to pay to remove it anyways.

i mean they spent nearly 2 weeks doing this. and no one even noticed until after it was gone.
posted by ninjew at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe this is just part of the cycle of nature?
posted by sneebler at 7:30 PM on October 18, 2011


We once had a pullout type aluminum ramp stolen from under one of our box trucks during a holiday weekend. Cost us about $900 out of pocket and a bunch of time to find another one that would fit. Pretty much everyone on our block ( industrial warehouse district ) got hit in someway that weekend. Seemed like anything made of semi expensive metal was hijacked. Police guessed that it was a professional team with a portable metal shredder to be able haul away that much scrap. This was five years ago and it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth every time we pull out that newer ramp on the truck.
posted by HappyHippo at 8:31 PM on October 18, 2011


Stealing metal is nice, but in St. Louis they knock down buildings to steal the bricks.
posted by tss at 8:44 PM on October 18, 2011


Edi
posted by pracowity at 10:54 PM on October 18, 2011


Just the kind of venturous, resourceful "can do" initiative that built America!

If they'd stolen that bridge in Wisconsin, they'd be eating dinner with the Governor!
posted by Twang at 1:01 AM on October 19, 2011


/** Integralist Freemarketeer mode on

What's not to like in enterpreneurs prying scarcemetals and bricks from the property of people dumb enough not to see the potential immediate monetary profit? It's not stealing, it's efficient resource recycling and reallocation (aka liquidation); it surely doesn't need regulation for market forces will reallocate resources from your idle hands into brick factories, which in turn will eventually drive brick prices down to the point that stealing them is not profiteable and solve brick stealing problem and reduce unemployment.

Then of course, as long as brick and metal stealing happens at rates that don't solicit enough investment into more brick factories, mining activities et al, it's not a market failure, it's the government which isn't financing these activities enough or is taxing them too much, or the socialist measures that have driven public spending to historical heights.

/**mode off
posted by elpapacito at 2:28 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


but sooner or later I'd imagine the developer would have had to pay to remove it anyways.

Except that it wasn't scrap at the time, it was a usable bridge that the owners didn't want to remove and that they plan to replace. Maybe the two guys who wrecked it are going to have to come up with the $100,000 replacement cost?
posted by pracowity at 3:14 AM on October 19, 2011


Go get 'em, gumshoe!

Metafilter: needs moar Carmen Sandiego.
posted by dracomarca at 8:34 AM on October 19, 2011


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