Wednesday September 01 04:20 PM EDT

Greek Orthodox Bells Recovered

A painter working on a Russian Orthodox church in San Francisco that was burglarized of three historic bells over the weekend made a delightful discovery this morning when he showed up for work.

``The first painter that arrived started to set up and noticed these boxes,'' said police burglary Inspector Gregory Ovanessian.

Inside the boxes, which were found on the steps of the rectory, were the missing bells.

Father Victor Sokolov says he was elated by the news. ``Naturally we're very happy. We're very moved,'' Sokolov said. ``For us it's a New Year's present, especially because for us, for the church, Sept. 1 is the beginning of the New Year.'' Ovanessian said a man came to church at 4:30 p.m. yesterday and told Sokolov's daughter that he bought the bells off a homeless man for $250 and that he would return them the following night.

Ovanessian said the man did not wait until this evening, when police investigators would have been waiting for him, but brought the bells back last night or early this morning. Ovanessian said police would like to talk to this mystery man.

``We'd like to know where he got them and why they were returned,'' Ovanessian said.