Historic Bell Stolen From Presbyterian Church In Lutz
A 116-year-old church bell went missing from a Presbyterian church in Lutz. The relic is of great importance to the church congregation, and members are hoping it will be returned to its rightful place.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Crystal Clark said the bell went missing from Christ Cumberland Presbyterian Church between Feb 3 and Feb 24.
Because the bell is made from heavy cast iron and about two-feet in height, investigators believe they are most likely looking for more than one suspect.
“This bell is several hundred pounds,” she said. “It’s not likely that it was moved by one person.”
Church member Lita Swindle echoed this assertion, and stated the congregation required great effort to set it up in the first place.
“When we installed the bell there, we had a church member who had a machine that took motors out of race cars and he handled the bell,” she said. “It was too heavy for the men to carry.”
The inscription on the bell reads, “1903 Lakeland Cumberland Presbyterian Church,” denoting its historical significance. The bell hung in the congregation’s original Lakeland location, which was a one-room, wood building built in the early 1900s.
Swindle said the original building was transported to Tampa in the 1920s. The bell was moved with the congregation to the new location. In 2004, a new building was erected for the church, and the bell was moved once more.
Clark said that whoever stole the bell is likely going to try to sell it for a profit.
“We are suspecting that someone may have taken this bell to melt it down and sell it for the metal,” she said.
She asked the community to watch for the bell and that anyone with information alert the sheriff’s department immediately.
Those with tips or leads can reach the office at 813-247-8200. A cash reward is available, and anyone with information is invited to anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873 TIPS (8477) or by filling out an online form.