Stolen SF Cathedral Bell Recovered Near Oakland Scrap Yard

WEST OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Police have told the Archdiocese of San Francisco that they had found a 5,300 pound, historic bell that had been stolen last Sunday from the grounds of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Police were tipped-off that the bell was near 9th and Pine Streets in West Oakland, near a salvage yard, according to a press release from the archdiocese. The police said that the bell is “dirty and covered with dirty canvas tarps, but it is intact.”

“This is wonderful news, a mini-miracle of sorts, for the parishioners of the Cathedral and all Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Francisco,” said George Wesolek, Director of Communications. “The wide press coverage of the theft helped make it harder to get away with this. Our thanks to the public for their proactive response, the press and especially the effective work of the San Francisco Police Department. Now we need to find a way to bring the bell back to its place at the Cathedral.”

The landmark bell was reported stolen from the garden at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco on Sunday morning.

The copper bell, which is about 4 feet tall, 5 feet wide, was reported stolen by the manager of the church, located at 1111 Gough St., police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

The bell is a “priceless artifact,” police Inspector Brian Danker said following the theft.

It was made in 1889 at a Baltimore foundry and shipped to San Francisco, where it survived the 1906 earthquake, as well as a fire that burned down the original St. Mary’s Cathedral on Van Ness Avenue in the 1960s, Danker said.

Property of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the bell was moved in 1971 to the church’s new location, where it was put on display in the garden. Church officials had planned to hang it in the cathedral again but could never get the funding to do so, he said.

Danker had said the church is offering a “substantial” reward for the bell’s return.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS SF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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