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Bell Honoring Sandy Hook Victims Stolen From L.I. Playground

Playground Developer: Thief Likely Didn't Know Significance
Photos of Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims sits at a small memorial near the school. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Photos of Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims sits at a small memorial near the school. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

ISLAND PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A bell dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was stolen from a playground on Long Island this weekend.

The 8-inch by 8-inch brass bell was stolen from the playground at Masone Beach on Waterford Road, in Island Park, sometime between 9 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, Nassau County police said.

“We had the ceremony Saturday. The parents were there and there was hundreds of people and it was a tearful thing,” Village trustee Henry Hastava told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

The bell was dedicated to the 20 children and six school staffers who were killed in the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn. It was inscribed with the number 26, and the adage from the move “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”

The bell and the playground itself were one of 26 that have been set up around the region. Each of them showcases one of the Sandy Hook victims’ likes and interests.

This particular playground honored massacre victim Caroline Previdi, 6, according to Bill Lavin, founder of the Sandy Ground Project that developed the playgrounds.

“This was the 10th playground. It was in honor of Caroline Previdi who loved the color pink and the New York Yankees,” he told 1010 WINS. “So there’s much more to celebrate, and I just hope that this particular incident doesn’t tarnish that beautiful project in any way.”

Lavin said the thief surely would not have taken the bell if he or she had known its meaning.

“It’s unfortunate. The way the project has been, it’s been blessed from the very beginning,” he said. “So all I could think of is whoever took the bell must have needed it more than they did on the playground, but I think if they knew the significance of it, they certainly would have left it alone.”

Local residents and officials said they just want the bell returned, no questions asked.

“This was like a big light for this little girl that we could have and to have somebody take that bell, it’s low,” a woman told Xirinachs. “When they rang that bell, there wasn’t a dry eye on this beach.”

“Because it’s so important to the little girl that’s dead,” Hastava said. “What did you hope to gain from it?”

The playground project was launched by the Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association in New Jersey, with assistance from the families of the victims.

Anyone with information on the stolen bell was asked to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at (800) 244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous, police said.

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