Church bell theft in rural Alberta leaves police, parish puzzled

·2 min read
The RCMP say a bell weighing about 230 kilograms was recently stolen from this central Alberta church in Hay Lakes, a village located south of Edmonton. (Submitted by Mark Bayrock - image credit)
The RCMP say a bell weighing about 230 kilograms was recently stolen from this central Alberta church in Hay Lakes, a village located south of Edmonton. (Submitted by Mark Bayrock - image credit)

The theft of a copper church bell weighing more than 200 kilograms from the bell tower of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in a small rural village near Edmonton has left police and parish leaders perplexed.

The theft happened sometime between July 19 and 24 in Hay Lakes, a community of fewer than 500 people located 60 kilometres south of Edmonton.

"It's huge ... it would have taken several people or at least two or three people to move," said church pastor Father Mark Bayrock.

Not only was the bell big and heavy, it was also bolted into a two-storey high wooden tower, Bayrock said.

"I wonder how they ever managed to climb up there and cut through the bolts," he said.

Submitted by Mark Bayrock
Submitted by Mark Bayrock

The value of the bell, which has been a part of the rural church since the 1930s, is not known.

"I don't know if this is an extravagant prank or if they're using it for copper because I know copper seems to have some value to it," said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Susan Richter.

Bayrock said this isn't the first time church bells have been targeted by thieves with one other theft and and an attempted theft occuring over the past 18 months.

In one instance "the bell tower was just simply burned to the ground and they took the bell that way," he said.

"In my other parish, we think they used a big truck and a big rope, and just put it across some beams near where the bell was and tried to yank it loose that way."

The stolen bell in engraved with the word "shawaga" which is believed to be the last name of the person who donated it, Bayrock said.

Anyone with information about the theft should contact Camrose RCMP.

Submitted by Mark Bayrock
Submitted by Mark Bayrock
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