Blasphemous heathens steal bell from St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco 

These crooks are going to hell.

A 2-ton historic church bell was stolen from St. Mary’s Cathedral on Geary Boulevard, police said Monday.

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No one knows for certain when the bell was stolen from the garden. The theft was reported last weekend.

"Nobody can swear on a stack of Bibles when they last saw the bell,"  San Francisco police Inspector Brian Danker said.

There is no video surveillance of the area, the police inspector added.

The theft was a professional job, with so-called "metal monsters" likely looking to sell to scrap metal dealers.

"The lowlife that did this had to use a large truck," Danker said. "It's the size of the Liberty Bell [in Philadelphia], minus the crack."

He said the thieves took the bell clean, leaving behind no other damage or markings on the ground.

The bell was built in a Baltimore foundry in 1889. It is estimated to be worth several hundred thousand dollars, Danker said.

The bell was first installed at the St. Mary's Cathedral on Van Ness Avenue and survived the 1906 earthquake. The cathedral was ravaged by a fire in 1962. The bell was moved to the new cathedral on Geary Boulevard in 1971, Danker said.

The cathedral had plans to retrofit the bell and find a spot to use it.

"This is a priceless artifact," Danker said.

Danker said he's less concerned with an arrest than with the return of the bell. There is a "substantial reward" for anyone who can provide information that leads to its recovery, he said.

St. Mary's and other San Francisco churches and schools were recently warned about a rise in metal thefts.

In another heist last weekend, crooks cut several thousand dollars worth of copper from a Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory building at Gough and Turk streets, Danker said. Sacred Heart recently acquired the building to house a nonprofit organization, he said.

The previous week, a bronze plaque honoring slain Supervisor Harvey Milk was stolen from its spot at Castro Station. The plaque, worth $10,000, had been bolted in.

The Police Department recently launched a special investigations unit specifically to combat metal thefts, Danker said.

Anyone with information on these recent thefts are encouraged to call the Police Department tip line at (415) 575-4444 or Inspector Dankor at 614-3463.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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