Sheboygan man accused of stealing hand bells from church
SHEBOYGAN (WITI) — 57-year-old David Neese of Sheboygan has been charged in connection with the theft of church hand bells.
Neese faces one felony count of theft of movable property.
The hand bells were reportedly taken from the church between December of 2011 and April of 2013, according to a criminal complaint in the case.
A criminal complaint says the bells stolen from the First Presbyterian Church on North 5th Street in Sheboygan included four cases of bells, each weighing approximately 40 pounds. The total value of the bells was reported to be $10,567.00.
According to the criminal complaint, the bells were kept inside a locked closet, and had not been used since December of 2011.
The complaint indicates in November of 2013 the church’s pastor received information that two of the four cases of bells were purchased by a man in California. The pastor received a phone call from that man who said he had purchased the bells through eBay and found labels on them with the name of the First Presbyterian Church in Sheboygan.
Police made contact with eBay, as well as the seller listed on the eBay site, identified as Web Store 11 in Burnsville, Minnesota, which was the online store for Pawn America in Burnsville, according to the criminal complaint.
An officer advised that the California man checked the website where he purchased the bells and found a third set of bells located at a Pawn America Store in Appleton. An officer determined the store was actually in Grand Chute, and advised an officer to make contact at the store to see if there were any identifying marks on the bells, according to the criminal complaint.
Later, it was discovered there were no identifying marks on the bells, but an officer was able to identify the seller of the bells as Neese, according to the complaint.
The church’s pastor confirmed Neese was a member of the congregation, and also an elder in the church and a member of the church council — according to the complaint.
The complaint says the pastor also told officials Neese was going through some financial difficulties.
In speaking with folks at the Pawn America Store in Grand Chute, it was determined the first case of bells were pawned by Neese in March of 2013. In May, Neese returned to the store and paid back the money he received for the initial pawn and then re-pawned the same set of bells again, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Neese never returned the bells, and as a result, the bells were listed on the store’s website. Two cases sold on the site were pawned in Wisconsin, with one set pawned at a West Allis store and the second at a store in Madison.
An officer determined that Neese used a photo driver’s license each time he pawned items.
An employee at Pawn America in Grand Chute told officers Neese had been a customer of hers on a number of occasions.