Stone bridge goes missing overnight, parts retrieved by Zhejiang police

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 10:47am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 11:20am

It was not one of David Copperfield’s magic acts, but a heist involving the disappearance and reappearance of a 100-year-old stone bridge in China’s eastern Zhejiang province.

Villagers were shocked when the bridge vanished overnight last month. The culprit, as it turned out, was a man looking to trade the stones for cash and was identified by police by his last name Chen, reported Zhejiang’s Modern Golden Times.

Chen said a slate buyer had offered him 40,000 yuan (HK$50,700) for the stones that made up the 20-metre-long bridge, in Yanjiajiao village in Hangzhou’s Yuhang district. Chen hired a crane operator to disassemble the bridge into more than 30 parts, which were loaded onto two trucks.

The operation, carried out in the middle of the night, went unnoticed. Villagers recalled hearing noises but did not investigate, believing it was coming from a nearby construction site. They were dumbfounded the next day upon seeing the empty space over the river, said the Times.

Last week, police retrieved all parts of the bridge in a slate yard 50 kilometres away from the village. Chen and a man surnamed Wang, identified as the crane operator, have been arrested, and an investigation is ongong. 

An 86-year-old villager, surnamed Yan, told the Times that the bridge was built from donations from villagers, who used to walk it every day. It carried many fond memories for the neighbourhood, he said, even though it is not used as often anymore because of newer, better roads.