Thieves target massive water tower at Packard Plant in Detroit

Brazen scrappers are trying to knock down the enormous water tower at the abandoned Packard Plant before a potential new owner takes over the sprawling ruins.

We spotted the thieves grinding down rusted metal supports over the weekend as the massive tower creaked and shifted in the wind. A nearby resident tipped us off because he fears someone will be injured or killed if the tower collapses.

The small group of scrappers has been tearing apart the Packard Plant for years, showing little concern for the safety of passersby and motorists. In October, they were responsible for a partial building collapse that sent large concrete chunks onto Concord, causing the street to be indefinitely closed.

The scrappers have been remarkably casual and unimpeded by law enforcement.

The iconic tower was built in the mid-1920s and rises high above the concrete ruins of the Packard, which has been largely vacant since the 1950s. The tower was designed to hold 75,000 gallons.

The plant was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn.

We’ll continue to monitor the scrappers.

Check out photos from our recent trip to the Packard.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.