IONIA CO., Mich.– The Whites Bridge was a historic landmark that stood in Ionia County since the 1860s, until a fire destroyed it on Sunday. Police are still looking into the cause.
While some people are considering raising money to rebuild it, a pair ofthieves saw an opportunity. They were caught allegedly stealing metal from the burnt down Tuesday.
The Ionia County Sheriff’s office says since the bridge burned down, they’ve directed patrols to that area to routinely check things out and those nearby are keeping a close eye too, helping police arrest two suspected thieves.
The sheriff’s office says they caught a 33-year-old man and 31-year-old woman from Orleans Township trying to leave the bridge after loading more than 200 pounds of scrap iron in their pickup truck.
The charred rubble of the Whites Bridge still lays in the Flat River, and people even started hanging American flags by it, writing down notes and memories.
It’s obvious this community is still in shock over losing Michigan’s oldest functioning covered bridge, and now they’re left frustrated to hear people are trying to steal from it.
John Piercefield, owner of Portland Metal and Iron says the cost of iron is pretty low and 300 pounds would only average about $30.
“Being in 32 years of business the thieves before were nervous, the thieves today aren’t nervous. They’re calm, cool and collected. That’s probably one of the most shocking things. You really can’t pick them out of a line-up and say that’s the one,” Piercefield said.
The two will be arraigned on July 23 at 10 a.m. in Ionia County.
It’s still unclear when or even if the bridge will be re-built. A Facebook group has been started called ‘Rebuild Whites Bridge’ .