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Historic bronze bell stolen from Buena Park School District

August 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A beloved piece of history has vanished in Buena Park. A bronze bell first installed in 1898 is missing and a lot of people want it back.

It was discovered last Thursday, a lonely vacant space where the community's oldest bell sat for nearly 40 years.

"Our maintenance crew was out in the yard doing some work, and they looked up and wondered where was the bell?" said Buena Park School District Superintendent Greg Magnuson.

The bronze bell was recognizable to most at the school district; it first rung at the town's two-room school house. It was then installed outside the Buena Park School District office to celebrate the national bi-centennial.

"At one point, we thought maybe it was a local prank of some sort," said Magnuson. "But the bell has not been returned. We've not been contacted by anybody. And well, the bell's gone, and we can only anticipate it's been stolen and perhaps maybe headed for a salvage yard."

"This required several people," said Corp. Andy Luong from Buena Park Police Department. "The bell itself weighed about 200 or 300 pounds, so they would have to un-ratchet the item from the stationary base."

Police say they're seeing a trend in metal theft because of the economy. The bell itself is worth about $5,000 in scrap metal, but is priceless to the community because of its history and symbolism.

"When it hung at Grand Avenue School, could be heard for over five miles back in the days when this area was largely agricultural areas, the roads were still unpaved," said Magnuson. "It was a symbol for kids to come to school."

"It's been there for a long time," said parent Sylvia Martinez. "It's just very shocking to know that someone would take something so precious from this community. It's not right."

Police are scouring scrap yards for the local treasure and asking for the public's help.

"Anybody would like to bring it back, no questions asked," said Magnuson. "We'd just like to have our bell back."

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