LYNNWOOD — The bells can ring once again at Alderwood Community Church.
Through some police work and help from others, 10 cases of handbells and chimes valued at more than $16,000 have been returned to the church from which they were stolen last July, pawned and then sold on eBay.
Three young men confessed to the crime, prosecutors say, and are awaiting court hearings.
During the summer, members of the church at 3403 Alderwood Mall Blvd. discovered the bells were missing, said Lynnwood Police Detective Doug Teachworth.
They spread the word among the Guild of English Handbell Ringers, which has branches around North America, to keep an eye out for the bells on eBay, Teachworth said. A woman in Texas saw some bells being auctioned from this area and called the church, and the church called Teachworth, he said.
The bells were sold on eBay for several thousand dollars by Diversified Loans/Pawn X-change of Marysville, Teachworth said. When contacted, shop operators said the bells had been brought in by Tyler Stevenson of Everett, now 21, and Josh Knox. They discovered that Stevenson was already being held in the Snohomish County Jail on an unrelated charge.
Stevenson told them his friend Cameron Curriden of Everett, also now 21, had gotten him to pawn the bells and that he knew they were stolen, according to Snohomish County Superior Court papers charging Stevenson with trafficking in stolen property.
Curriden had been a member of a youth group at Alderwood Community Church that his family still attends, Teachworth said. When Curriden was contacted, he admitted to stealing the instruments along with Knox and enlisting Stevenson to help pawn the items. They considered the church an “easy mark,” Teachworth said, because it was seldom locked and Curriden knew the musical instruments were there.
Curriden told police he had a drug problem and that he committed the crime to get money to support his habit. Knox, who was living on the streets of Seattle at the time, couldn’t be found right away but his mother was contacted and she talked Knox into turning himself in, Teachworth said. Knox, too, told police he had a drug problem and wanted help.
Meanwhile, the owner of Pawn Exchange in Marysville contacted the buyers of all the bells and chimes, and all agreed to return them, Teachworth said. The buyers were fully reimbursed, including shipping costs, the detective said.
Curriden and Knox were charged with second-degree burglary. Curriden has a hearing April 20 to determine whether he is eligible for a county drug treatment program that is offered to some nonviolent offenders as an alternative to jail, according to court papers. Trial dates have been set for Stevenson on April 22 and Knox on April 29.
Earlier this month, the church celebrated the bells’ return. The church’s pastor, Dave Ballbach, has declined comment on the matter.
Bill Sheets is a reporter for the Herald in Everett.