The Great Wall of China was damaged by two construction workers, who smashed a shortcut through it with an excavator.

Built to keep massive armies out of China during the Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall ran for about 8,850 miles. In the past four hundred years, long stretches of it have been pillaged for bricks and stones, building hundreds of farms. During the Communist revolution, intact segments were revived as a symbol of patriotic China, its strength and longevity. All of it, in any condition, is considered a United Nations protected heritage site.

In Youyu County, well west of Beijing, a long, less-maintained segment of the Great Wall lies between two towns. Two construction workers, a man and woman named Zheng and Wang, live in one, and do construction work in the other. To give themselves a shortcut to their job site, they bulldozed a dirt road through the remains of the crumbling section of wall.

In August, the breach was reported, and according to the local government, the two were arrested, with legal action pending.

The damage happened to an area where the wall had already been brought nearly to the ground by time, but the man and woman dug a gap wide enough for a two lane road, deep into the mounded earth at the foot of the wall. It opens more intact portions to erosion and deterioration.

Police stated that the two caused “irreversible damage to the integrity of the Ming Great Wall and to the safety of the cultural relics.”

China is not known for legal leniency, especially against those accused of cultural crimes. While the public doesn’t consider that this crime is unusual, since those living near the Great Wall in older buildings likely have stones from it in their walls and streets, they are upset by it now that the Wall is protected.