GROSS RIDSENOW - The recent theft of a 600-kilogram, 500-year-old chapel bell (estimated value 20,000 euros) from a cemetery in Gross Ridsenow in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is one of an increasing number of bell thefts in Germany.
What attracts thieves to the bells is quick money, according to the Suddeutsche Zeitung. A bronze bell such as the one in Gross Ridsenow consists mainly of copper – and the value of that metal has gone up significantly. Ten years ago, a kilo of copper cost $1.65; now it costs almost five times as much – $8.10. Thieves have been stealing copper wherever they find it, from railroad or roof fixtures to copper wiring on construction sites, and they have now moved on to bells in chapels and churches.
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In view of the trend, in Gross Ridsenow plans had been made to protect the 15th century bell but it was stolen before steps could be taken. Not long afterwards, pieces of the bell started appearing – the thieves had sold it for 1,600 euros to a scrap metal dealer who smashed it beyond repair into hundreds of pieces.
When the dealer heard about the stolen Gross Ridsenow bell, he contacted the police. His transaction with the four alleged thieves had been filmed by his security cameras – police are now searching for the men.