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It’s Apparently Easy to Steal Entire Highways in Russia

A prison chief in northern Russia allegedly managed to steal 30 miles of highway over the course of a year.

A Russian ruble coin is pictured in front of the Kremlin in in central Moscow, on November 6, 2014. After having recently spent billions of dollars per day to support the ruble in a flexible trading band that limited swings in the currency, the Bank of Russia said it would end its unlimited daily interventions to avoid speculation against the currency. The Russian ruble has lost more than 25 percent this year to the US dollar.    AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A Russian ruble coin is pictured in front of the Kremlin in in central Moscow, on November 6, 2014. After having recently spent billions of dollars per day to support the ruble in a flexible trading band that limited swings in the currency, the Bank of Russia said it would end its unlimited daily interventions to avoid speculation against the currency. The Russian ruble has lost more than 25 percent this year to the US dollar. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

There is, in life, somewhat of an indisputable hierarchy of what is easiest, and what is hardest, to steal. The difficulty of pocketing a small snack at a crowded market or grocery store, for example, pales in comparison to the challenges that come along with hijacking a luxury car.

Near the top of the “hardest to steal list”? Highways.

But Russian officials announced Wednesday that Alexander Protopopov, acting deputy chief of the country’s national prison service, managed to find a way to make it happen.

According to state investigators, Protopopov spent an entire year between 2014 and 2015 dismantling roughly 30 miles of public road in Russia’s far northern Komi region. He gathered around 7,000 concrete slabs, then sold them to a company that later resold them for a profit. How much money he made off the operation — and how it took so long for anyone to notice the road was slowly disappearing — remains unclear.

The damage cost Russia an estimated $80,000, and the operation was allegedly carried out while Protopopov served as prison service chief in Komi. He headed the region’s prison service from 2010 to 2015, and during that time, earned himself multiple awards, including one for encouraging “spiritual unity.”

Now Protopopov could find himself as the one behind bars: He faces 10 years in prison for using his position to steal state property.

Photo Credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

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