Bells stolen from SF church commissioned by Czar Alexander III

Sunday, August 29, 1999
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(08-29) 16:26 PDT SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Three bells donated by Russian Czar Alexander III in 1888 have been stolen from the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The church, founded in 1857, is the oldest Eastern Orthodox parish in the United States.

``We don't know what happened to them,'' the Rev. Victor Sokolov told KCBS radio in San Francisco. ``We don't know if some nouveau riche in Marin County will put them on his ranch and ring them for the cocktail hour or some jerk will sell them to a scrap metal dealer or somebody will smuggle them abroad.''

The church has been undergoing renovation since a fire last April. The bells are considered priceless for their historic value. Nobody has been able to figure out how the heavy bells were taken probably late Saturday or early Sunday morning.

The church also is illuminated by a grand chandelier donated by the last czar of Russia, Nicholas II.