OLYMPIA, Wash. – Police are on the hunt for the person who stole an invaluable piece of history from a place that’s supposed to be safe for kids.
Earlier this month, in the dead of night, a thief stole a 70-pound bronze bell from McLane Elementary School in Olympia and investigators say the crook went to great lengths to get away with the heavy item.
“It’s an unusual crime,” said Lt. Tim Rudloff from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but once you notice it’s obvious something at the campus has disappeared.
“It’s our loss more than it’s that person’s gain,” said Christina Janett, who learned about the theft Thursday morning.
It even took a few days for school officials to realize anything had happened.
“The video is shadowy and grainy, it’s not a great visual,” said Rudloff.
On March 9, surveillance video captured someone walk up to the school entrance with a ladder – and about 45 minutes later leave with the school’s bell.
The school district told the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office the bell is likely worth a couple thousand dollars, but its value to the school and community is priceless.
“They obviously would need to leave the community to get any value out of it,” said Janett. “It’s just very sad that somebody would think they could benefit from it in any way.”
What’s worse, while security cameras caught the thief in the act it’s hard to make out any of the suspect’s identifying features.
“Even for the scrap value that the bell is worth, I think it would be a lot of work and a pretty risky move for that level of scrap money that you get for it,” said Rudloff.
Investigators are hoping someone out there has heard information about the thief and has information that police can use to bag the crook.
“This is their school, parents volunteer, teachers work hard, kids go to school here,” said Janett. “It’s just a really sad day for the school.”
There is a up to a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in this case. If you have information, you’re urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or share your info with police through the P3 Tips app.