ERIC THAYER / Reuters

Stealing and reselling copper wire from abandoned homes is so yesterday

It was probably a strange call to make, let alone to receive. “I couldn’t believe it,” Gary Bruce told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after a neighbor called to tell him that a bridge his company owned had somehow disappeared. As WTAE reports, the 50-foot bridge in North Beaver Township in western Pennsylvania was seemingly stolen sometime in the past two weeks.

Police believe thieves used a torch to dismantle the steel bridge, presumably to sell its pieces as scrap metal. The bridge was only sporadically used, according to Bruce who represents New Castle Development, the company that owns the property. He tells the Post-Gazette that the company had recently decided to close the bridge off to the public because of rising incidences of metal theft.

Rising scrap metal prices and high numbers of empty foreclosed homes have led to a spike in metal theft, especially high-value copper wiring inside the walls of many homes. Metalprices.com reports that copper is worth more than $3 per pound, up from less than a dollar in 2003. Manhole covers have also been stolen, as have train rails.

This Pennsylvania bridge, though, is not the first to be stolen. A Polish bridge was stolen in 1998, thieves in Ukraine stole an 11-meter bridge in 2004, and a 200-ton bridge was dismantled and stolen in Russia in 2008.

Still, it’s kind of a strange evolution of the desperation inspired by the economic recession. Once all the abandoned homes have been gutted, will the country’s crumbling infrastructure be the new target?

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Presidio Terrace neighborhood
    POV

    The Problem of Progressive Cities and the Property Tax

    The news that a posh San Francisco street was sold for delinquent taxes exposes the deeper issue with America’s local revenue system.

  2. Times Square, 1970.
    Life

    The New York That Belonged to the City

    Hyper-gentrification turned renegade Manhattan into plasticine playground. Can the city find its soul again?

  3. Life

    Where Robots Are Doing Factory Jobs

    Almost half are clustered in the Midwest and South.

  4. Equity

    The Complex Relationship Between Innovation and Economic Segregation

    It’s not just the tech industry that’s responsible for America’s stratifying cities.

  5. POV

    Grenfell Was No Ordinary Accident

    The catastrophic fire that killed at least 80 in London was the inevitable byproduct of an ideology that vilified the poor.