Rare Musical Bells Stolen From Long Beach Church

"It's disturbing. It's music. Why would they do this? I don't understand."

Thieves in Long Beach burglarized a church and stole specialized instruments that were supposed to be played the holiday season.

The instruments were specialized bells That have been played at the church since the 1980s, and the thieves were captured on security cameras using a U-Haul to commit the crime.

"Each bell represents one note on a keyboard," said Debbie Shaw, the director of Handbell Ensembles.

Of the 61 bronze bells belonging to Carillon Ringers at Los Altos United Methodist Church,  all the thief or thieves left behind were hand bells in one case.

The burglar or burglars broke a deadbolt lock and took off $24,000 worth of Shaw's pride and joy.

"The music touches my soul," Shaw said. "I feel that the bells, they allow me to worship."

With no way to play, the ensemble's holiday performances are now in jeopardy.

"The congregation is very upset at having lost this beautiful instruments," Shaw said. "We've had these bells since 1981." 

Grainy security footage from the church parking lot shows a U-Haul truck parked right by the sanctuary where the bells are stored. Despite having a U-Haul, Shaw says, the bell burglar or burglars took nothing else.

"I would really like to have the person who did this caught," Shaw said. "It's disturbing. It's music. Why would they do this? I don't understand."

Since the bells are extremely specialized, even if Shaw and the church put in an order immediately, they'll be lucky to get replacements by Christmas.

Long Beach police confirm they are investigating the theft.

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