A group of thieves posed as government officials to dismantle and steal parts of a 60-foot-long abandoned iron bridge in an Indian village near Bihar's Sasaram.

The men had posed as officials from the government's irrigation department and used gas cutters and earthmoving machinery to tear apart the bridge located in Amiyawar village. The villagers realised that it could have been a scam after the bridge disappeared overnight and the men left without saying a word.

The villagers then approached the police to file a complaint. According to a resident, the villagers had earlier submitted an application asking the irrigation department to dismantle the bridge which was no longer being used, so they assumed the men were sent by the government.

Bihar |60-feet long-abandoned steel bridge stolen by thieves in Rohtas district

Villagers informed some people pretending as mechanical dept officials uprooted bridge using machines like JCB & gas-cutters. We've filed the FIR:Arshad Kamal Shamshi, Junior Engineer,Irrigation dept pic.twitter.com/o4ZWVDkWie

— ANI (@ANI) April 9, 2022

"People came with heavy machinery, gas cutters and worked for two days during the day to dismantle the bridge," said a villager. The thieves made off with the parts of the bridge last week. They loaded the scrap metal into a truck and fled away with it.

Meanwhile, the police have arrested eight individuals in connection with the theft. The arrested persons include a sub-divisional officer (SDO) of the water resources department and a local politician. Four out of the eight arrested people are scrap metal dealers and residents of different places in Bihar.

According to a report in The Times of India, the police have seized an earthmover, a pickup van, a gas cylinder, and a gas cutter used in the theft. Iron channels weighing about 247 kilograms and Rs3,100 cash have also been recovered from the arrested persons.

"We have identified some members of the gang and some are yet to be tracked down. They destroyed public property and stole a bridge. An inquiry has been ordered and we are investigating how and when the bridge was stolen," Subash Kumar, a police official said.

Selling metal scrap is an easy way for thieves to make quick cash and is not an uncommon crime in India. Similar incidents have been reported in other countries as well. In 2012, the thieves stole a bridge in broad daylight in the Czech Republic.

Crime Scene police line
Representational Image Photo: GETTY IMAGES / SCOTT OLSON