There have been a number of cases nationally in the last two or three months of bells being stolen. These bells have been those easily taken; for instance, those lying around in churches on show, those in open bellcotes in secluded and sometimes not-so-secluded locations, and in one instance an 8cwt bell lying around in someone's garden under a tarpaulin. There was even a theft of 9 bells from the apparently-secure premises of a bellhanger recently. With the price of copper now reaching records levels and tin up by over 50%, it makes bells very attractive to criminals. Very sadly, the criminals don't distinguish between ancient, rare bells and the 'more normally-found' ones – and some ancient, rare bells have been lost. Scrap bellmetal was £300/cwt about 4 months ago, so it may be £350 now, which makes a 3cwt bell worth about £1000. Pretty good pickings if you can enter a deserted church and remove an old bell kicking around in the corner. Might as well put £1000 in a box and mark it 'Money, please do not take'.
If your church, or a church you know of, has some 'easily-takeable' bells, please tell the PCC of these thefts and recommend they remove it/them from sight straightaway. I can think of one church not a million miles from me, where there is a nice 9cwt bell on display – just a mere £3000-worth. Hmm: action required there, I think. Remember, too: locks (and chains) are only to keep honest people out…. And if you think 'It won't happen here', that was probably the thought of those whose bells were taken.