By Ron Sanders, WBZ-TV

FRANKLIN (CBS) — History buffs in Franklin are “devastated” that thieves swiped a 300-pound bell of undetermined historic value.

Debbie Pellegri, who chairs the Franklin Historical Commission, said it’s a shame someone brazenly stole the bell from the front yard of the town’s historical museum. Police believe it was taken sometime between last weekend and Thursday.

“We really don’t know much of the background other than it does say a liberty bell and where it came from,” said Pellegri.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

The museum, which opened last May, pays tribute to Ben Franklin as the town is the first in America to be named for him. Pellegri said the bell was donated by lifelong Franklin resident Robert Landry.

Landry runs an equipment and repair shop and discovered the theft while passing by the museum on West Central Street. “And I looked yesterday morning and it was not there.”

Landry said he had found it in an old building he was renovating and donated it to the town. “I think it was made in Philadelphia,” recalled Landry who said it has markings showing it was cast in the 1800’s. Landry reported the theft to Franklin Police.

“Franklin’s not alone in this. Many towns in our area are going through a series of larcenies of metals. They’re taking pipes out of buildings, wiring out of buildings, going to these salvage yards and turning it in for cash,” explained Chief Stephen Williams.

Police say another bell, reportedly made by an apprentice of Paul Revere, was stolen from a home being renovated in Blackstone late last month. But they don’t know for sure if there’s a connection with the Franklin bell. “And I only hope and pray that they’re not going to bring it somewhere and have it melted down,” said Pellegri.

One reason folks in Franklin would like to have the bell returned to the spot from which it was stolen is so they can continue the investigation into where the bell came from in the first place. After all, it was Ben Franklin who said, “honesty is the best policy.”


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