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Bronze bell stolen from Olympia elementary school mysteriously returned almost a year later

Staff surround the newly returned bell at McLane Elementary in Olympia (Photo courtesy Olympia School District)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A 70-pound bronze bell that was stolen from a South Sound elementary school in the dead of night has been returned almost a year later.

For all the mystery surroundings the unsolved theft at McLane Elementary, the bell’s return is just as mysterious.

“It was wrapped inside a  plastic bag and left on the front side of the school near a fire gate,” Olympia School District spokeswoman Susan Gifford said. “The bell was discovered early Monday morning before school by the school custodian. School camera video footage was checked, but there was no one seen on the video dropping off the bell.”

On March 9, 2019, surveillance video captured someone walk up to the school entrance with a ladder – and about 45 minutes later leave with the school’s bell.

Principal Anthony Brock compared the returned bell and its hardware to the photos of the original bell and confirmed it matched.

“It appears the only change to the bronze bell is that it was painted black and gold,” Gifford said. “Before it had a more weathered look. The bell had been hanging in the front of the school since 1987. Students would ring the bell at the end of their fifth-grade year.”

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