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Fort Walton Beach church bell tower stolen
FORT WALTON BEACH -- FORT WALTON BEACH- Fort Walton Beach police are looking for clues in an unusual theft. Someone stole a church bell tower.
Laura Hussey "We're on the east side of St. Simon's Episcopal Church in Fort Walton Beach. There are two bell towers here, one of them just above the door you're looking at. It was taken down in midsummer for repairs. Now, it's just gone"
The tower left the church on a trailer...it's twelve feet long, ten feet tall, and weighs about a ton. Whitrock Builders took it to their welding contractor near Lovejoy Road, to repair some rust damage.
It's not clear exactly when the tower disappeared, but facilities manager John Fitzgerald got the news Thursday.
John Fitzgerald "When Keith called me yesterday and told me that I said...you've got to be kidding! I mean, who would take a bell tower? The thing is huge! Just how do you do that?"
The tower holds St. Simon's original church bell, from 1946. Fortunately, it was removed before the tower was taken down. Still, Reverend Mark Fitzhugh says the theft hurts.
Rev. Mark Fitzhugh/St. Simon's "When you hear and you see the bells here, I think the community knows that this is a good place to come and be a part of...so to hear this is discouraging."
The tower is made of aluminum. Police think it may have been stolen for the value of the metal.
Whatever the motive, one can't help but wonder about the consequences of stealing from a church.
John Fitzgerald "You know, I don't like to judge anybody, 'cause somebody else judges you"
Rev. Fitzhugh "We're in the forgiveness business. That's a good thing"
Laura Hussey "The owner of Whitrock Builders is offering a thousand-dollar reward for the return of the bell tower. If you know anything, call the Fort Walton Beach police."