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July 31, 2014updated 24 Aug 2023 3:40pm

Mass bus shelter theft in China

By City Monitor Staff

A London bus stop made entirely from Lego managed to survive for a whole month without being nicked. Not so, however, for the unlucky bus shelters of Nanjing.

In mid-July, 25 new bus shelters were erected along the city’s Jiangbei road. They were 3m tall by 3.8m wide, made of steel, and probably weighed between 200 and 250 kg. Nine days later, Shanghai Daily reported, 24 had disappeared, leaving behind a couple of benches and the shelters’ sawn-off bases.

The company that provided the shelters, the Nanjing Bus Stop Shelter Company, believes they were probably stolen by welders with professional tools, as the poles were cleanly cut. Making the theft seem even more improbable, they also said they had needed cranes to install the shelters in the first place.

Image: Xinhua News.

So what would anyone want with 24 brand new bus shelters? They were worth 1.4m yuan (around $230,000) in total, so it’s possible they were stolen for scrap metal. After all, 4,800kg is a lot of stainless steel. You could make, for example, 24,000 forks. Or 55 flagpoles.

The police are investigating the theft (presumably focussing their investigations on cutlery factories and the homes of flagbearing nationalists), and another news site ran a translation of a report by the Jiangsu news Network claiming that suspects have already been arrested. It included a statement from Nanjing city government, which said:

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The main people involved were arrested for the crime of intentional destruction of property…. Police criminal coercive measures were taken and the case is under further investigation.”

The translated statement also contained this faintly mystifying sentence:

“Jiangbei Road 24 bus stations mysterious disappearances by police investigating the issue, because the coefficient Jiangbei Avenue advertising companies the right to operate the bus station construction problems caused by the current conflict.”

It’s clear that the explanation may not be as simple as scrap metal scroungers – but what “coefficient Jiangbei Avenue advertising companies” are, we’ve no idea.

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