How Thieves Once Stole A 3,000-Pound Bell

In 2005, monks at the Buddhist Monastery in Tacoma, Washington, entered a deep meditation and emerged to a surprising loss: a 3,000-pound bell had been stolen. The bell was so large that police think it must have been removed with a forklift, according to Reader's Digest. The bell was placed in a hand-carved wooden frame and hung in an open-sided meditation pavilion, the Associated Press reported at the time. Both the bell and the frame were stolen. 

Temple Abbott Thich Phuoc Toan told reporters that the bell was used only on special occasions to call the monks to worship. It had been cast in Vietnam, and Toan said it was impossible to calculate its value. "I think the people who stole it wanted to make money, but they never thought about the significance of it and how important it is in the practice of Buddhism," he told The Associated Press.

Lost and found

When the bell was first stolen, Thich Phuoc Toan told The Associated Press that he was not very hopeful it would be found. Fortunately, he was proven wrong a year later. The recovery began when a man purchased a storage unit in Puyallup, Washington, The Associated Press reported further. A second man named Robert L. Hunter approached him and said the unit's contents all belonged to him, and he would pay him more than $500 for them. The man refused and instead informed a Department of Fish and Wildlife officer on November 20, 2006. The bell was recovered from the storage unit and returned to the temple. 

Eventually, Hunter was arrested, and even more stolen items were recovered from his property, including six cars, two tow trucks, a tractor, and some guns. The bell itself was returned undamaged, but the wooden frame containing it was and had to be repaired before the bell could be used in ceremonies again, Toan told The News Tribune.