ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.-- Earlier this week, police responded to a home on Queen Road due to the back gate being open. When they went into the backyard, they noticed a big problem.
The giant green bell that sat inside for years was missing.
It was easy to spot. It weighed 10,000 pounds and can only be moved with heavy machinery.
Joyce Simmons and her husband bought the steel from an auction. It was built in 1899 by the McNeely Company and belonged on the Hoboken, N.J. ferry.
It's estimated value is $6,000, which is probably why thieves wanted it.
"Somebody must have cased it out and learned she's not living there anymore," Margot McMillan said.
McMillan is Simmons' accountant. She remembers three men showing interest in the bell at an estate sale in the fall, but says Simmons wouldn't part with it.
When her husband died, it became more sentimental and in her eyes -- irreplaceable. She planned to donate it to the Hoboken ferry, which recently reopened after 40 years. McMillan believes it may already have scrapped it, but hopes at least some justice can come out of this for the owner who so dearly valued her antique.
"It's shocking. I know how much she loved the bell," McMillan said.
If you know any information about this case, call the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office at 904-824-8304.