Metal thief topples staircase rail at the Union League

Police are looking for the thief who removed a brass handrail from a curved staircase at the Union League of Philadelphia early Monday, toppling the stone balustrade in the process.

A surveillance camera captured the deed at 3:02 a.m. on the north stairway to the league's main entrance on Broad Street. 

"As a result of ripping the brass railing, most of the stone staircase fell," the League said in a statement. "We will work to restore the staircase to its original condition as soon as possible."

The video was not immediately released, and no description of the metal thief was available.

Erica Martin,  the league's director of communications and marketing, said that after ripping out the brass rail, the man carried it south on Broad Street and hid it behind a dumpster on Moravian Street before returning to retrieve it.

"Certainly such a sad day to see such destruction and vandalism," Martin said.

This is not the first time the stairs have been damaged.

In the early 1990s, two taxis hit the staircase in separate accidents a week apart, said Jim Mundy, the league's director of education and programming.

"There wasn't a whole lot left of the original balusters at that point," he said.

The "envelope" of the building and the staircase were restored in 2006. The risers and treads are concrete-colored to look like brownstone. The railings are a composite material, Mundy said.

 The 151-year-old, French Renaissance-style eight-story building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, occupies an entire city block on Broad Street just south of City Hall.