A 60-feet-long steel bridge was dismantled and stolen by a group of men posing as government officers in Bihar's Sasaram district, police said on Saturday.
The bridge, weighing 500 tons, was built over the Arrah canal in Amiyawar village in Nasriganj police station area in 1972, they said.
A group of men, posing as officers of the Irrigation Department, dismantled the defunct bridge with the help of gas-cutters and earthmovers over three days, police said.
By the time the locals realised what was happening and informed the police, they had fled with the scrap, said Subhash Kumar, the Station House Officer (SHO) of Nasriganj police station.
"It appears that the whole operation was executed with the help of unwitting local officials of the Irrigation Department," he said.
A case was registered and a hunt was on to nab those behind the incident, Kumar said.
Scrap dealers in the district have been alerted about the incident, he said.
"The bridge was too old and declared dangerous some time back. A new concrete bridge was constructed adjacent to the old one, and that is currently used by the locals," said Mantu Singh, a resident of the Amiyawar village.
Taking a dig at the government over the incident, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav said the thieves were inspired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and BJP leaders.
"If BJP and Nitish Kumar can steal the government of Bihar, then what is a bridge?" he said, apparently referring to Kumar's JD(U) severing ties with the RJD to form a government with BJP in the state in 2017.