Over the last six months, brass sounding devices have been stolen off of buoys located along Maine's Coast. Credit: Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

During the past six months, bells have been stolen from buoys located off the Maine coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help in gathering information on the theft of the brass sounding devices, which include brass gongs and bells. Theft of the bells is a federal offense.

The devices are attached to buoys to help mariners navigate when visibility is reduced. “They play a vital role in the safe passage of ships in mariners,” according to a news release.

The release did not specify how many sounding devices have been stolen or where along the Maine coast the thefts are occuring.

The Coast Guard believes the stolen sounding devices are being sold to nautical shops or scrap metal yards given their “high-dollar” value.

Tampering with navigation aids can be punishable by one year in prison or fines up to $25,000 per day. Anyone with information that leads to a conviction is eligible to receive up to one half of the fine imposed.

Anyone with information about the missing devices can contact the Sector Northern New England Command Center at 207-767-0303.

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