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

At least no one had much use for the metal monstrosity

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 provide a vital community service for some – no one was using this route.

According to the BBC, the bridge in far-flung Murmansk Oblast – lying 170km south of the world's northernmost city with more than 250,000 inhabitants (307,257) – once helped to transport rare earth minerals from a factory near the ghost town of Oktyabrsky, but fell out of use when the business went bust in 2007.

The tracks had long since been lifted – but that didn't deter crooks, who local prosecutors said managed to swipe the remaining 23m-long, 56-tonne metal structure of the central span. Presumably not all in one go.

A post on Russian social media network VK in late May shows the bridge's middle section lying in the water, suggesting our ambitious plunderers took the structure down before dismantling it.

The amount of vodka needed to fuel this wet, cold and downright miserable project would have probably benefited from being brought in by rail too... swings and roundabouts.

But what of the cost to the structure's owners? 600,000 roubles, the Znak news website reported – or about $9,000/£7,000, a meagre sum compared to the regal £400,000 that the parish of Houghton Conquest in Bedfordshire was stung for after their lead church roof went for a walk down the scrapyard last year.

As the Beeb wrily pointed out, metal theft is as much a time-honoured tradition in Russia as it is in the UK, citing the 2017 example of a Soviet-era anti-aircraft missile exploding at a recycling centre after being sold as scrap.

Not to condone theft or anything, but The Register hopes this incredible operation was worth the £7k after being split between those involved.

Since May temperatures in the regional capital of Murmansk average 4°C (39.2°F), we suspect your regular British scoundrel would ask for much more just to get in the river. ®

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