Where's the bridge? The 7 Biggest Things Ever Stolen

Where's the bridge? The 7 Biggest Things Ever Stolen

We think of thieves on a spectrum from the kid who steals a candy bar from 7-Eleven, to the group of guys in a tuxedos knocking over a casino in an elaborate heist involving grappling hooks.

But there is a level of thief even above them, guys who think a little bit bigger than everybody else. Too big, it turns out. That's why they tried to steal things like...

A 3,000 Pound Bell

How often do you go to church (or in this case, a Buddhist temple) and, upon hearing the bell think, "I want one!" Well, some other guys apparently did, and they decided to make their dream come true.

You can imagine the surprise of the Buddhist monks at a temple in Tacoma, Washington when they noticed their enormous bell was missing. Especially considering the thing weighted 3,000 fucking pounds.

Experts (see local police) theorized that, unless the thieves had some kind of super powers, they would have had to have brought a forklift and a truck to load the thing onto. With all the quiet time at those temples, you'd assume someone would have heard something (it is a freaking bell, after all), but nobody heard or saw a thing.

"Well I got this forklift...might as well use it to steal a big ass bell..."

The monks said the bell, cast in Vietnam, was so valuable that they couldn't calculate its worth, which must have pissed them off even more realizing that the assholes who stole it were probably going to sell it for scrap. That, of course, raises the question of just what the thieves thought they would do with the thing after they had it, as even the shadiest pawn shops and scrap metal yards would probably give you more than a raised eyebrow as you dragged this bastard through the door.

It turns out they didn't have a plan. The monks got their bell back a year later, when some dumbass tried to sell it and some other junk for $500. The buyer went right to the cops, ruining his own chances to have a huge kickass bell on his porch.

A Beach

In July of 2007, officials in Jamaica were presumably walking along the beach when, all of a sudden, there was no more beach. After hiding their weed, they notified local police that an entire fucking beach had been stolen.

"Is it just me or was this place more beach-like yesterday?"

Approximately a half mile of beach was taken, and no one knows where it went or who took it. Natural causes were ruled out, and island officials believe approximately 500 dump trucks were loaded up with the sand and taken elsewhere on the island. Again, they don't know where it went, who took it or why, though you'd think that the dude suddenly selling timeshares for houses with the slogan "NOW WITH BEACH!" would be the key suspect.

A Tank

1995 was a simpler time. Terrorists weren't supposedly hiding under every rock and bringing too much shampoo on a plane wouldn't get you a body cavity search. Back then if you wanted to, say, borrow a tank from a military base, you could pretty much just walk in. It was all done on the honor system really.

Don't believe us? Ask Shawn Nelson. Shawn was a typical man whose life got a little tough, what with trying to sue San Diego, and a hospital, and trying to build a mining quarry in his back yard. Being the kind of guy who likes to think outside the box, Shawn decided to steal a 57-ton M60 Patton Tank from his local National Guard armory.

"Well, if this sign doesn't work, gosh, I don't know what to do.

As it turns out, no, tanks don't require keys to start, and yes the hatches were locked, though police theorized he used a crowbar to break into three different tanks before finding one that would start. Yes, the only thing stopping Al Qaeda from taking over an armored division was that they didn't know about the crowbar thing.

The secret to American safety.

Only after it was too late did a guard notice someone, you know, was stealing a freaking tank. Being the brave soul he was, the guard did the only thing his training and pay grade allowed him to do: call someone else.

In the mean time, Nelson took his newly-found wheels out for a spin through suburban California; crushing cars, trailers, knocking over utility poles and prompting countless SUV drivers to lean out of their windows and ask him where they could buy one.

How do you stop a tank in that situation? You don't. The ensuing 23 minute chase ended only when Nelson managed to get the tank stuck on a jersey barrier in the middle of the highway. At that point, probably after shitting themselves at the sight of said tank, the cops jumped on the war machine, opened the hatch and shot Shawn to death. Yes, the man was presumably undone by the same technique he had invented: the ingenious "crowbar to the hatch" tank hack.

A Bridge

Ever had somebody say, "Well if you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you!" Well be careful if you happen to be in Russia at the time, because there's a certain chance that the dude just might have a bridge out back he's trying to move.

It may, in fact, be this bridge that was stolen in Khabarovsk, Russia. And the thieves stole it overnight! That's right, a 38-foot long steel bridge designed for automotive traffic was stolen overnight, without anybody noticing.

Something's missing...

In what has got to be the most incredible "guess what I did while I was drunk last night" story ever, the local police theorize that a group of thieves dismantled the bridge to sell the metal for scrap. You know, because it's Russia.

The worst part, is that these are probably serial bridge thieves. According to the article, two other bridges were completely stolen earlier in that same year, and police suspect the crimes are connected (though obviously not by a bridge). But of course the saddest part of this is what it suggests about Russia. One, that (unlike the bell thieves) the perpetrators were apparently able to find a taker for the scrap metal who'd turn a blind eye to the clearly bridge-shaped nature of many of the pieces ("I, uh, found it. In the river.").

"Look, it doesn't matter how I got it, do you want it or not? I'll throw in the train."

Secondly, there's the motorists who stopped when their headlights revealed a half-gone bridge, along with a group of dudes with cutting torches running away with chunks and giggling, and who didn't bother to report anything. We can just picture them doing a U-turn, shaking their heads and muttering, "Yakov Smirnoff was right."

A Church

In what is perhaps the biggest simultaneous dick-slap to the face of both God and the legal system, an entire church was stolen. In--hold on, let's see which country this was here...

Oh, right: Russia, again.

According to reports, a local businessman came by and offered villagers about four cents a brick for the church. We'll theorize he actually meant a lump sum for the building, but was rather surprised to open his door one morning to hundreds of Russian villagers with their arms full of bricks.

The theft of the church apparently happened over the course of less than a month, and officials believe that the bricks in question were re-purposed to build other local buildings which we're assuming are all hugely cursed. This in mind, they offered a reward for the return of the church. We like to imagine a large group of Russians huddled over a trashcan fire trying to determine which bricks the nearby McDonald's doesn't actually need to stay upright.

A Fully Loaded Oil Tanker

While Somalian pirates can only hijack oil tankers and hold them for ransom, others just steal these gargantuan, slow-moving boats outright.

The tanker, called the MV Asterious, was moored at an oil field in Ghana, and was being guarded by the Nigerian navy. Now, two things: one, we suspect the Nigerian navy isn't all that impressive; two, the MV Asterious had an all Russian crew. The boat happened to be chartered by two different oil companies, GNPC and Lushann Eternit, who both blamed each other when they clearly should have been blaming the Russians.

The Nigerian Navy.

The boat was never recovered and no suspects or leads have been reported. Later, in the same year, two more tankers were also stolen overnight, futher insulting the Nigerian navy. One tanker, the MV Jimoh, was found repainted. While that works great on cars (at least in the Grand Theft Auto universe), we doubt it has the same effect on ships.

"The missing ship has been arrested," navy commander Kabir Aliyu said, which without checking further we are going to assume that involved slapping a pair of comically oversized cuffs on the boat and putting it into ship prison wearing an enormous striped uniform.

The Empire State Building

Yes, you read that right. The Empire State building was stolen, and it only took 90 minutes. Let us repeat that: The Empire fucking State Building was stolen in 90 minutes. Though you may be disappointed to learn that the actual theft did not involve a massive underground drill or a super-sized Superman villain helicopter.

No, instead, the building was stolen by the New York Daily News. Through an elaborate (see not that difficult) process of forgery, the news agency managed to create documents for a bill of sale and other undisclosed legal documents convincing enough to make the New York City Office of the City Register transfer the title of the building to Nelots Properties, LLC. You noticed it too, huh? That Nelots is 'stolen' backwards? Oh you didn't? Don't worry, neither did the Office of the City Register.

You know what else they didn't notice? Some of the important names on the documents, like the witness the notary, who happened to be Fay Wray (the original King Kong star), and Willie Sutton (the famous bank robber).

NYC's notary clerk.

In all fairness, the stunt was designed to draw attention to a flaw in the system in which the clerks are not required to verify any information. In the article they brought attention to actual cases of this kind of entire house theft where the thieves would take out mortgages on the house, and leave the actual owners stuck to pay off the mortgages while thieves pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unlike the above mentioned assholes, the Daily News returned ownership of the building to Empire State Land Associates. We like to think we would have done the same. In exchange for a pile of money exactly the size of the building.

When he's not wasting time on his Facebook or his Myspace, John Scrovak also wastes time writing for STDP7, The Deadbeat, and Regretful Mornings.

Be sure to check out today's Photoshop contest, which takes you Inside The Inboxes of 15 Famous Villains.

And for more real world insanity, check out 6 Insane Prison Escapes That Actually Happened and 6 Insane Discoveries That Science Can't Explain.

And you can visit the Internet's new home at Cracked.com's Top Picks, because we stole it. That's right, the whole fucking thing. Bitches.

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