Police are looking for a man they believe stole brass handrails early Tuesday at Providence Waterplace Park.
Witnesses told NBC 10 they heard the sound of chainsaws at about 2 a.m. and saw police officers run toward the water.
"I heard (the sound of a chainsaw) and I was like, 'What is that?' Then the cops showed up and told me some guy is down there cutting the poles," Richard Parillo said.
At least 50 feet of railing was missing.
Police said someone has been stealing the handrails on staircases leading to the water for several months now.
On Tuesday, the suspect they were tracking down was able to get away, but police told NBC 10 they're looking for 51-year-old William Hazard.
"He was identified by a witness and identified as scrapping some of the metal in Providence at a scrap yard," said Lt. Tim O'Hara of the Providence Police Department.
The metal used for the handrails is so expensive, the city hasn't been able to keep up with the thefts and the railings go un-replaced.
"We're very close to tracking him down. We know where he lives. We hope to catch him soon," O'Hara said.
The metal used goes for $2 a pound. O'Hara said anytime the price of brass goes up, more metal is stolen.
Police said the section missing is worth at least $500.