After 43 Years, Thief Returns Bell

New Jersey man says he stole the Niantic Bay Yacht Club bell on a whim back in 1970.

The Niantic Bay Yacht Club in Connecticut recently held its decommissioning ceremony for the end of the season, and people had tears in their eyes listening to the annual ringing of the bell.

That’s because the bell in question was one that had just been returned, out of the blue, by the man who stole it 43 years earlier.

New Jersey resident Chuck Phillips delivered the bell to the yacht club without an explanation, beyond the fact that he stole the 65-pound brass bell on a whim when he was 19 years old. That was in 1970.

Since then, the yacht club had been using a replacement bell from a World War I Destroyer. It has now been retired, with the original bell regaining its rightful place instead of being kept in Phillips’ home.

“Returning this bell seemed to bring more joy to more people in the last three to four days than that bell being there for the last 43 years,” Phillips told WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut.