The Ottumwa Courier

January 11, 2013

Police say filing charges unlikely if Victory Bell found

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — While the OHS Victory Bell could be found someday, police say there may not be enough information to file charges.

Lt. Tom McAndrew said nothing has progressed with the case since the bell was reported stolen on Jan. 2.

“Normally, in the long run, we do find out what happened, but whether we can file charges ... that’s usually up in the air,” he said. “A lot of times, though, we can’t file charges but we know who did it and what happened to the stolen property.”

In cases such as this, McAndrew said the department will usually find out the thief is someone they have dealt with and arrested in the past.

“But we have to have probable cause to file a charge,” he said. “In a lot of cases, we will get information as to what happened, but we do not have enough information to prove what happened. We have to be able to convince a jury that a person committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and a lot of times we don’t have it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

McAndrew said if and when the department does find the thief or thieves, it will likely be a person(s) they have arrested before.

“There’s a group of people we deal with on a pretty regular basis,” he said.

School staff believe the bell was stolen from the school’s warehouse on Gateway Drive sometime between Dec. 28-31, while the school district was on vacation. When staff returned, they found the locks on the gates had been cut.

Officers have recovered the trailer that the bell sat on during Bulldog games, but the bell was nowhere to be found.

The bell has been part of the district since 1869, when it was first used to call students to class from the tower of Ottumwa’s first public school, College Square.