Oi, Where’s My Bridge? , FHM Investigates The Rise In Metal Theft

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WARHEADS IN ROMANIA, 2011 The Romanian military went on full-scale alert last summer when four boxes – containing 16 missile warheads each – went missing from a train. Politicians had to go on TV to reassure the public they wouldn’t die, and the death missiles were found a few miles away in the possession of a terrified 14-year-old scrap thief who had no idea what they were, but was excited to hear about the 45% rise in the price of steel. Wwhen we tried to sell it “Don’t you dare bring it to us!” exclaims the merchant. “Call the police before you blow yourself up.” “We don’t think it’s live,” we say. “Call the police. Now!” Scrap value: `300 per 30kg of steel warhead components. MANHOLE COVERS IN CHINA, 2004 Thieves looking for easy money in Shanghai have been out of luck ever since the city switched their nice iron manhole covers for plastic ones after a six-month spate where 1,200 were swiped every month. Eight people died and loads were injured after falling down the holes. Last year 30 were stolen in Somerset. When we tried to sell it “Right…” says our scrappy. “We can’t take those from the general public. Quite a few have ‘gone missing’ lately. Know what I mean?” Scrap value: `700 per 50kg manhole cover. COPPER IN ARMENIA, 2011 Last March, Armenia vanished from the internet when a 75-year-old Georgian lady called Hayastan Shakarian stole some of their copper and, in the process, cut through the fibre-optic cable connecting three million Armenians to the online world. She defended herself by saying she had no idea what the internet was. When we tried to sell it “What sort of wire?” our rag and bone man asks. “Dug up wire? Er… we can’t take that. It tends to belong to BT.” Scrap value: `375 per kilo of copper wire. Zilch for fibre-optic cable. BRONZE PLAQUES IN CZECH REPUBLIC, 2008 Czech neo-Nazis were blamed when bronze plaques from the graves of nearly 1,000 victims of the Theresienstadt concentration camp were stolen. Turns out the neo-Nazis were being picked on, and the real criminals were a gang of common-or-garden scrap pilferers. The plaques have been replaced with plastic ones. When we tried to sell it “Are you taking the piss?” scrappy says. “No sir,” we say. Scrappy hangs up. Scrap value `1,80,000 per 1,000 kg of bronze grave marker. A MOBILE DISTILLERY IN FRANCE, 2011 Booze hounds in the south-west of France were sobbing into their glasses last year after a man who made money going from town to town turning farmers’ apples, grapes and pears into booze had 500kg of copper swiped from his lorry-drawn alcohol distillery. When we tried to sell it “Are you breaking the tools down yourself?” asks our man. “It sounds like a mix of copper and steel. If you brought it in as it is, you’d get the steel price of ` 10,000 a tonne.” Scrap value : `1,40,000 per 500kg of copper. A BRIDGE IN RUSSIA, 2008 Russians in Khabarovsk endured a chilly winter in 2008 after thieves made off with a 200-tonne bridge. Made of half-metre steel pipes and steel slabs, the bridge across an icy river linked the town to the only road leading to the town’s heating plant. Police don’t know how they did it, but reckon they dismantled it at the scene. Without anyone noticing. Winter temperatures in Khabarovsk drop to -23ºC. Ouch. When we tried to sell it Scrapman tuts and puts the phone down. We didn’t even get to explain where the bridge came from. Scrap value  `2,200 per 200 tonne bridge. A TRAIN IN UKRAINE, 2004 An open-air railway museum in Donetsk found itself without its star exhibit after thieves pinched an historically priceless 14-tonne train that was built in 1924. The gang used a crane hired from the local council. Cops found the tragic loco cut into pieces in a local scrapyard. When we tried to sell it “Not for us sir. We wouldn’t be able to pick it up,” metal Mikey says. “We’ve cut it into pieces though,” we say. “No. Bye.” scrap value  `2,000 per locomotive. A SCULPTURE IN SPAIN, 2010 When a steel sculpture worth £600,000 was found in a Spanish scrapyard in December it exposed the most gormless gang of art thieves ever. Part of a £5m art haul hijacked by robbers a month earlier, the piece by artist Eduardo Chillida called Topos IV was sold for 33 euros. “We are dealing with amateurs,” said the local police chief. When we tried to sell it “We do buy modern art, yes, but we only pay scrap price for it,” our man says. “I’ll give you about £100 per tonne.” “Can we bring it in today?” we ask. “Yep.” Great. Scrap value :  `1,100 per tonne of steel. India Manhole Cover Theft Manhole covers were once stolen in two months in Kolkata. Hundreds of manhole covers are stolen in the city of Bangalore, India every month. About 240,000 manhole and street-drain covers were stolen in Beijing in 2004.               strong

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