Steel Theft Now Water Under the Bridge

Man accused of stealing historic bridge's bearings, selling them to salvage yard

By Scott Gordon
|  Thursday, Oct 29, 2009  |  Updated 10:48 PM CDT
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Man Accused of Stealing Historic Bridge's Bearings

NBCDFW.com

Police launched an investigation when three pieces of the Lancaster Avenue bridge were reported stolen.

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Man Accused of Stealing Historic Bridge's Bearings

A man who stole heavy steel pieces of a bridge was arrested after he sold them to a salvage yard, police said.
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A man who stole heavy steel pieces of a bridge was arrested after he sold them to a salvage yard, police said.

Construction crews repairing the historic Lancaster Avenue Bridge in Fort Worth last week reported three rocker bearings were missing, and the chain securing them to a concrete pillar had been cut.

The bearings weighed 250 pounds each and helped hold the underside of the structure together.

Police launched an investigation and an all-out search to find the bearings, which were part of the original bridge when it was constructed in 1938.

"Everything kind of fell into place,” Detective Jason Mendoza said. “With everyone working hard and working together, it made it a lot easier."

Within hours, detectives tracked the stolen steel to a recycling company in North Fort Worth, which bought them for about $60.

A new law requires salvage yards to keep records on customers selling scrap metal, and officers said they quickly identified the suspect.

Richard Ramsey Jr., 42, faces theft charges.

Police recovered all three bearings, which construction crews cleaned and returned to the bridge Thursday.

Without the couplings, work on the bridge would have been delayed, police said. Making new bearings could have cost thousands of dollars.

"We've got the original couplings recovered, we've got an arrest of the suspect, the project is continuing, (and) everything is back on track,” Sgt. Chad Mahaffey said. “Absolutely, this is a win."

"Happy ending, another case solved, and on to the next one,” Mendoza said.

The repair work is costing Fort Worth about $600,000. The bridge, over the West Fork of the Trinity River, is set to reopen in late November.

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