Congregation baffled by theft of church bell

August 23, 2010 6:38:31 PM PDT
The congregation at St. Michael's Korean Catholic Church in San Francisco is baffled by a strange crime. Who would steal a bell that has been part of the church for more than 100 years? The bell has survived earthquakes and remodeling, but not thieves.

The 600-pound brass bell that was in front of the building was stolen in the middle of the night a week ago.

"I'm not quite upset... but wondering why somebody would take our bell," said church member Anna Yoo. "Who need[s] a bell?"

Somebody looking for money perhaps. Police say a bell four feet high and four feet wide could bring close to $1,000. It may be melted down, so investigators are in contact with scrap metal dealers.

The church was built in the 1880s. The bell was hoisted into a tower in 1901 and stayed there until 1964 when the church was modernized. The bell was moved in front of the sanctuary and that is where it rested until last week.

"You don't think so much about something when it's there all the time, but when it's gone, wow," said Yoo.

Taken for granted, so no one has a picture of it. When the church added a statue of the Virgin Mary a few years ago, they almost put it where the bell was.

There is a sense of loss in the congregation.

"It's not been the same shock as it would have been had they taken a picture or a statue of a saint or Mother Mary, something like this," said Peter Schroepfer who has been covering the story for The Korea Times. "But they're still generally kind of distraught."

A feeling best exemplified by church secretary Theresa Shim, who simply said, "Please help us to find the bell."

For the parishioners it is like losing a member of the family, and they don't know yet whether they will replace it.


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