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Published: Thursday, June 2, 2011, 5:40 p.m.

1,000-pound brass bell stolen from Arlington church

  • A half-ton brass bell was reported missing Tuesday from the Immaculate Conception Catholic church in Arlington.

    Contributed photo

    A half-ton brass bell was reported missing Tuesday from the Immaculate Conception Catholic church in Arlington.

ARLINGTON -- A 1,000-pound brass bell that has rung at a Catholic church in Arlington for nearly a century has gone missing.
Church members hope the disappearance is merely some end-of-the-year high school high jinks, but they fear it is the work of scrap metal thieves.
The beloved bell was in front of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 1200 E. Fifth St. It was attached to a metal chain anchored in concrete. Someone cut through the chain some time between Monday night and Tuesday morning. Church members suspect the thieves drove onto a walkway and hoisted the bell onto a truck.
On Sundays, the pastor would nudge the half-ton of brass before Mass, producing a rich and booming toll.
"You didn't want to be standing near it," church deacon Phil O'Loane said. "You wouldn't be able to hear for a while."
The church has 442 families in its parish and the bell has historical and symbolic value to long-standing church members.
It is believed to be part of the Arlington's parish's church that was built in 1919.
When the new church opened in 1983, the bell made the move.
"I think the sentimental value to the bell is it was part of the original structure," O'Loane said. "It tied the old in with the new."
Police are investigating the theft report made by church staff on Tuesday, city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.
"We're still hoping it's a graduation prank and it will turn up," O'Loane said.
Church members also understand the possibility the bell was stolen for its scrap metal value.
Scrap metal is an $85 billion industry each year in the United States, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in Washington, D.C. Thieves follow the market.
The lure of a quick buck in the recycling market has led to the thefts of a wide variety of metal products in Snohomish County.
Earlier his year, about 30 bronze vases disappeared from graves at the Evergreen Funeral Home and Cemetery. The vases were removed from different sections of the sprawling 80-acre cemetery.
Bothell police recovered 67 missing metal sewer covers in April. Many belonged to neighboring cities.
Thieves have swiped catalytic converters from cars, stolen brass fire hose fittings and stripped downed power lines for their copper.
The bell theft in Arlington wasn't the county's heaviest metal heist so far this year.
In January, a Mukilteo police officer stopped three suspicious men in a pickup truck that was hauling a trailer. Beneath a tarp was part of a 3,121-pound propeller made of bronze, aluminum and nickel. The large four-bladed propeller measured more than seven feet across. It belonged to a Mukilteo maritime supply business.
The men were arrested for possessing stolen property.
Anyone with information about the stolen church bell can call the Arlington Police Department at 360-403-3400.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com
Story tags » ArlingtonCrimePoliceCatholic Church

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