Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen is working a theft case this week like no other he has seen before.
“We’ve had street signs and stop signs stolen,” he said Tuesday, “but to go to the extent of taking a bridge from a road … you don’t see that happen.”
About three weeks ago, the absence of a bridge in Kane Township was noted and reported to road officials, who reported the missing bridge to McMillen. He believes the bridge was stolen in March.
Authorities cannot be sure when exactly the 20-foot-long, 10-foot-wide wood and iron bridge was taken because the bridge is used infrequently by just a few farmers to gain access to their property.
They do believe that the bridge was removed intact from its location southwest of Carrollton in Kane Township.
Kane Township is one of 13 townships in Greene County and is home to fewer than 1,000 residents.
A break in the case of the missing bridge happened by coincidence last week, said McMillen, when he noticed a large pile of iron lying in a yard about eight miles away from where the bridge was last seen.
The “heavy duty” pieces of iron appeared to be from a bridge similar to the one that is missing, but McMillen did not have enough evidence as of Tuesday to say with certainty that the dismantled bridge in the yard was his missing bridge.
The person who owns the property where the iron pieces were discovered is cooperating with authorities, said McMillen, and has denied that the iron is from the missing bridge.
McMillen said he hopes to have the case wrapped up later this week.
Stealing a township bridge is a felony because of the bridge’s cost and because township bridges are government-owned.
“It is kind of a bizarre case,” said McMillen, “but nothing really surprises me anymore.”
Bre Linstromberg Copper can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 221.