Stolen school bell mysteriously returns to McLane Elementary in Olympia

By Sara Gentzler

The Olympian

The 70-pound bronze bell stolen last March from McLane Elementary School has been returned to its rightful home, the school reports. Who, exactly, returned it remains a mystery.

The school custodian found the bell wrapped in a plastic bag on the front side of the building before school started Monday morning, Olympia School District spokeswoman Susan Gifford wrote in an email to The Olympian.

Principal Anthony Brock then compared the discovered bell to photos of the original and confirmed it was a match, Gifford wrote, though there was one minor difference:

“It appears the only change to the brass bell is that it was painted black and gold,” Gifford wrote, “Before it had a more weathered look.”

Surveillance footage did not document the bell’s return, according to Gifford.

The school unveiled it as a surprise during a school dedication ceremony Tuesday, which was held to celebrate the recently remodeled school.

According to The Olympian’s previous reporting, the bell was taken early the morning of March 9, 2019. Video surveillance showed a suspect pulling up to the school in a truck about 4:20 a.m. and using a ladder to remove the bell. The video didn’t provide a clear image of the suspect or vehicle, however.

Prior to its theft, the bell had been hanging in front of the school since 1987 and students would ring it at the end of their fifth-grade year, according to Gifford.

“The McLane community is thankful that the bell is back home,” said Principal Brock in a prepared statement.