The theft of an historic bell, stolen this week from St Brides Anglican church in Otorohanga, has stunned the Rev Christine Scott.
"I'm absolutely devastated," she told NZPA today.
Police theorise the 150kg bell, thought to be made of brass and hanging at the entrance of the church for about 50 years, was stolen for scrap.
All the church now has is the bell's brass clapper which was under lock and key.
The clapper was only installed and used when the bell was rung because members of the congregation were worried it might be pinched.
"We never thought the bell itself would be stolen," Rev Scott said.
The "Pembroke Bell" was donated to the church in 1960 in memory of a local parishioner.
It hung just above head level on the outside of the church and was clearly visible from the street.
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Related article: Historic Otorohanga church bell stolen
Bell theft is becoming a growing problem due to the shortage of copper and the rising price of copper.