Four carillon antique bells were stolen from St. John's United Church in Halifax on Tuesday night after thieves broke into the church through a stained glass window, say church officials.

Halifax Regional Police were called to the Willow Street church at approximately 10:40 p.m. after someone found a fifth church bell on the sidewalk nearby.

The church has been closed for five years. Parishioners now worship at the Maritime Conservatory on Chebucto Road.

The four bells that were taken were the lightest in a set of bells. Nine others — including the one recovered on the sidewalk soon after — are still at the church.

Linda Yates, the minister of St. John's United Church, said the church was broken into once already over the weekend.

St. John's United Church

Parishioners removed the damaged stained glass panes at St. John's United Church on Wednesday. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

"We have this big giant safe that we don't keep anything in, but someone had been fooling around with it," she said Wednesday.

Police do not know if the two thefts are connected. Yates said she did not have time to heighten security at the church after the first break-in and before the second break-in took place Tuesday.

She suspects the bells may be used as scrap metal.

"We expect them to be back. We're keeping a look out at the salvage yards," Yates said.

Wendall Brown, a steward of St. John's United Church, said the bells were cast in England in 1920. He helped remove the damaged stained glass panels from the church on Wednesday.

"You're never very happy someone would come in and desecrate a church sanctuary for a few dollars of scrap," he said.

"We'd rather they left our bells alone."