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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Decemystery (2020) 17: The Wrecking Ball Theft


This story makes my head hurt. It’s like it was hit by a wrecking ball that was stolen.

The Story

Let’s take a trip over to Reddit. Yes, as much as I loathe using the website as a source, it’s the best centralized location for today’s story and to the credit of the user acarter8, they did a fantastic job in compiling information on it. So, kudos. If you’d like to see it all, click here to look at the thread I’ll be using today.

The story, which takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana,  here is very simple: back in 1974 (or 1973 if you go by this newspaper article), the folks over at the Dowling Construction Company left work one day, leaving behind a 5,500 pound steel wrecking ball. The following day though, they returned to find that it was missing. Someone had, somehow, gotten it down as it dangled 200 feet off the ground and presumably drove off with their new found playtoy.

Since then, no one has ever found the wrecking ball, nor has the culprit (or culprits) ever been identified. That’s the story through and through. Someone managed to steal a two-and-a-half ton wrecking ball over night without so much as leaving behind a trace of their presence.

There are some inconsistencies though, and the Redditor makes note of them. Some state that the wrecking ball weighed five tons, which is twice the normally stated two-and-a-half tons. As stated earlier, there is an inconsistency with the year that this took place. Some say 1974, others say 1973.

There’s also a ridiculously small amount of information regarding this case, but one can easily pass that off as there being little to no evidence to work off of and the construction company simply opting to purchase a new wrecking ball. However, the idea the entire thing was a hoax—and that the theft never happened—has been put forward. To counter that, I’ve never seen anything that dictates it’s false; no one has ever come forward to publicly admit to being behind the hoax. At the same time, no one has come forward to say that the theft in fact happened, so I’m kinda stumped as to whether or not that theory is true.

I digress though. So where does one go after their story begins and ends at “someone stole a wrecking ball”? Well, the Redditor snooped around a bit in a book they owned and also found some newspaper articles. As for me, I took to Google and tried to find information on the story that they may have missed.

And it looks like they didn’t.

As I said before, there’s barely anything on this story. It’s as bare bones as it gets in spite of its absolutely ridiculous nature. I looked high, low, and even tried searching under the couch for something, but to no avail. It’s about as shallow as a kiddie pool. Because of that, I think it’s safer if we simply hop into the theories and look over them


1. It was stolen and sold as scrap metal

The first theory is the most popular: someone pulled off arguably the single most ridiculous robbery ever and proceeded to sell the two-and-a-half ton wrecking ball. Scrap metal is by no means something you can sell for nothing. Quite the opposite actually, it’s very much a lucrative business and a wrecking ball would definitely sell for a pretty penny and then some.

With that said, one has to ask: how on Earth was a robbery like this pulled off? More often than not, one would settle for maybe stealing a car, chopping it for parts, and selling the rest as scrap. A wrecking ball is a very odd target given they’re, you know, usually attached to cranes, high off the ground, and weigh a lot. While it’s high risk, high reward, most would see that high risk as being ridiculously outlandish and probably better suited for people who have experience within the field of construction.

So naturally, one could posit this robbery had inside help. However, that is but a mere theory and given nothing has ever pointed in that direction, I’d argue it’s up for debate.

On the other side of things, a friend of mine had a theory that was both amusing and interesting. She put forth the idea that a startup construction company stole the wrecking ball to use as their own. While there are no doubt some flaws (presumably, the ball had some sort of identifiable logo on it), I find it funny to imagine a company playing war games to get items from elsewhere for their own needs.

In the end though, I think the most likely motive for stealing the ball would have been selling it for scrap. At least, that’s my view on it. You’re free to disagree.

2. It was insurance fraud

The second theory is that it was insurance fraud. This is a theory that I honestly think is possible, but there’s one massive problem to it. According to the Reddit post, and from everything else that I can find, the construction company had never lost anything else. Nor does it appear that it was ever in any sort of financial trouble[s]. So I’m inclined to disregard this. In spite of that, financial woes aren't exactly the progenitor for someone to commit insurance fraud. It can always be greed and it’s possible that the CEO felt like raking in some sweet, sweet moolah.

3. A prank? 

Our third theory is that it was just a prank, bro. The camera is over in the crane’s dashboard filming.

Exactly who on Earth pulled this prank and why, I couldn’t tell you. There comes a point when a prank is so absurdly over-the-top and requires so much effort that it feels like a waste of time, energy, and resources. However, it seems like this is a theory worth mentioning since it at least would explain how the wrecking ball was removed: employees—one of whom would have been a crane operator—decided to pull some sort of prank on their foreman/boss because of some arbitrary reason. During the night, they returned, got the wrecking ball, and then did something with it (perhaps they sold it to a rival company or something).

It may seem absurd, but it’s the only theory I can think of that would at least explain how the wrecking ball was gotten—especially with it seeming like it would’ve been extremely difficult to get for anyone who’s an amateur or lacks any experience whatsoever.

4. I really don’t know

I honestly to God don’t know. Maybe it was Three Doors Down after they performed Kryptonite and got bored, so they decided to perform some sort of weird ritual! Holy smokes, this is some cringe nonsense. Seriously, I don’t bloody know.

5. Seriously, I don’t know

No, seriously, I don’t. Why are we staying on this topic?

6. Vert, stop adding theories

Holy smokes, it’s making me add more pointless theories. Please, stop!

7. If 7 = Indiana, then why even steal a wrecking ball?

No, no. That’s insanity, because if 666 = Danish, then why even have intercourse with a ketchup bottle?

My Take

I honestly don’t know what on Earth the reality behind this story is. It’s such an absurd, weird, and fantastically goofy story that I think it’s almost too good to be fake. If I had to take a shot in the dark, I’d say that the prevailing theory about it being broken down and sold as scrap would be the safest bet. Though how on Earth it was successfully pulled off without anyone noticing is something I cannot explain. Unless maybe it was something of an inside job. Oh, so much intrigue!


Until someone confesses—assuming this was a real crime—I’m going to leave it up to you, oh dear reader. Please tell me in the comments below. See you all tomorrow!

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