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Grand Span Heist: Akron police searching for bridge thieves

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 14, 2021

AKRON, Ohio — Akron police detectives are hopeful that the public could be the bridge needed to find those responsible for disassembling and stealing a 58-foot-long bridge last month that was being stored at a public park. Yes, you read that correctly.

Measuring at 10-feet wide, 6-feet high and a span of 58-feet, the bridge made of composite material was once installed at Middlebury Run Park near Seiberling Street in Akron. In the early 2000s, the bridge was removed as part of a creek and wetlands restoration project and had been stored in a nearby field. Although the city had plans on utilizing the bridge for another project, those plans came to a screeching halt last month when officials noticed that the treated deck boards had been removed. Then, about a week later, the whole thing was gone.

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Yes, someone or a group of thieves stole an entire bridge.

“I have not heard of anything that large — albeit it disassembled but actually stolen, I can’t think of anything comparable in my 22 years [at the Akron Police Department],” said Lt. Michael Miller. “We know it will be met with mystery and questions:who and how and why? All of those are unanswered. It ranks high on the list of mysteries, that’s for sure.”

Although it is certainly not the grand heist that’s reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven, the bridge certainly had value, police said. The city’s engineering department estimated the value to the city is $40,000, although the polymer-based material that the bridge was made out of makes it largely worthless to a scrapper or recycler.

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“It may not have been as complicated as we first thought. Essentially the bridge is made of some sort of polymer. It’s connected by some bolts. If you have any equipment, sockets, and things of that nature, it wouldn’t have been very difficult at all to begin the process of disassembling that,” Lt. Miller said. “It’s described as a big Lego-like device.”

Police are hoping that someone, somewhere has some information that could help lead detectives to the culprit.

“Someone that might mistakenly think there is a particular scrapping value of that particular material. Maybe they are mistaken and now they’re stuck with, ‘well, what do we do with it?” Lt. Miller said. “It went beyond impulsive.”