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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Stolen bells 'left at scrap yard'
Merton bells
Three church bells stolen from Devon may have been found at a scrap merchants in Manchester.

Parishioners at All Saints Church at Merton near Hatherleigh said they were "95% sure" the bells were theirs.

The bells were stolen last month from the Tavistock workshop of restorer Peter Baisley who is going to Manchester to identify them.

Locals were concerned the 70% copper bells would be melted down and offered an 11,000 reward for their return.

'Fantastic news'

The scrap merchant told police the bells had been left outside his gate and when he searched the internet he suspected they were the same bells that had been stolen.

Parishioners, who had raised thousands of pounds towards the restoration, are celebrating the discovery.

Church warden Mike Ford said: "This is fantastic news.

"It was totally unexpected, but we've seen the pictures and we are very confident they are the same bells."

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said the bells were being held at Leigh police station in Manchester and would be transported back to Tavistock if they were the same as those that were stolen.

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