LUTZ, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s the case of the missing church bell, a mystery making headlines in Hillsborough County.
Within the last month, someone took tools and a lot of time to steal this piece of historic property from Christ Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
The church sits nestled between the oak trees in a cozy, somewhat secluded section of property at 19501 Holly Lane in Lutz. The bell was a bit hidden among the hedges. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never see it.
Sometime between Feb. 3 and Feb. 24, it managed to go missing. The big, bulky bell is unbelievably heavy and incredibly old, dating back more than 100 years.
What’s the dollar value on an iconic piece of historic property like this? No one really knows, according to church members.
It begs the question, why take it? “I have no idea. It looks like more trouble than it’s worth, doesn’t it,” said Lita Swindle, one of the original members of the church.
Swindle still can’t believe this happened and remains perplexed.
“I was sort of flabbergasted,” she told 8 On Your Side. “It was the last thing I would have thought of, to have someone steal the bell.”
She, like so many others, are shocked by this mystery of the missing bell. They just want it back, no questions asked. Church members say it’s not about the money. For them, the bell is priceless.
They just hope divine intervention plays a role in the bell’s return, possibly leading this landmark, and maybe those who have it, back to church.
“The Lord knows what he’s doing. There’s no doubt about that,” said Lita with a simle.
According to investigators, the bell is 116 years-old and has an inscription that reads “1903 Lakeland Cumberland Presbyterian Church.” The bell was transported from the church’s old location in Lakeland where it sat from 1903-1924.
Also missing is a brass memoriam plate nearby which read “In memory of Nancy White,” which was taken from a tree located next to the bell.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 813-247-8200. In order to be eligible for a cash reward, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).