The bell at St. Mary's Cathedral rang through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. It survived when an arsonist torched the old cathedral in 1962. And although it was replaced with an electronic chime in the 1970s, for decades it stood strong on a wooden platform outside the rebuilt church. But sometime in the last month, metal thieves made off with the 122-year-old, 2.7-ton bell.
"It is a very historic and valuable item, it is a memory of the Catholic Church in San Francisco," said George Wesolek, communications director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. "It is kind of an ignoble end for the bell if they succeed." Nobody realized the bell was missing until Sunday morning.
A parishioner mentioned that it wasn't where it was supposed to be, a secluded outside corner of the cathedral on Geary Boulevard and Gough Street. Then everyone realized that they couldn't remember seeing the bell for the last month. Police assume the bell was taken more recently, but can't be sure. "Nobody can swear on a Bible and say the last time they saw the bell," said police Inspector Brian Danker.
The bell, which at 5,300 pounds and 5 feet across is bigger than the Liberty Bell, must have been lifted by a crane and carted away by more than an average truck, Danker said. No security cameras are pointed at the area. The bell is made of a mix of 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin, records show. If melted down, the bell is worth roughly $75,000. It originally cost the church $17,000, Wesolek said.
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