When Greece adopted the euro, it poured billions into modernizing its infrastructure, building spectacular bridges, highways, and a new rail transit network for Athens.
Now, locked in recession and crushed by debt, Greeks are targeting many of those projects, gouging the metal and selling it for scrap to feed ravenous demand driven by China and India. Police say they now arrest an average of four metal thieves every day, compared with a few cases every month before the crisis started in late 2009. They are accused of stealing industrial cable, power-line transformers and other metal — triggering blackouts and train delays. The profile of the metal thief is changing from those on the margins of society to mainstream Greeks.