The Best Bell Heists ( and Attempted Heists)

WILL HARVEY ’22 | STAFF WRITER • Spirits are high around Wabash as the bell hollers its famous “ding ding” across campus at all hours as we approach the biggest weekend of the school year. Luckily the bell is in proper hands, but reflecting on less fortunate, one cannot help but recollect incredible bell heists of the past.

The first heist, which was even featured in an article in Sports Illustrated, depicts a trio of DePauw students aspiring to haul the 300 pound bell from the perch where it rests in the Allen Center. Bolted to the platform, DePauw student Matthew Ingle scaled to the top of the perch with wrench in hand, attempting to lower the bell onto the ground. Two other students quickly alerted him of an approaching security guard, Don Money. They quickly returned to their vehicle in an attempt to escape, but not until Mr. Money was able to gather the license plate number. After reporting the attempt, it wasn’t long until police contacted Ingle and shortly afterwards he turned himself in. Unfortunately for him, he faced a prosecutor from Wabash, and the rest is history.

Other heists have occurred in the past, such as when a Wabash student tricked DePauw admissions faculty into thinking he was a prospective student seeking to see the bell. After acquiring the location, that night a group of Wabash men acquired the bell and returned it. However, none will rival the extravagance of Operation Frijoles. In 1965, Jim Shanks visited the president of DePauw, posing as an important figure from the Mexican-American Cultural Institute. His goal was to establish a scholarship or two and encourage enrollment from Hispanic students. Switching between Spanish and English, he managed to get the president to show him famous landmarks around campus, including the location of the bell. With little to no resistance, the bell was snatched that night and, shortly after the operation, Wabash ended a 10 year drought and returned the bell. Wabash students flooded the field wearing sombreros and flaunting Hispanic ponchos while posters around Greencastle showed the president winning “the No-Bell prize” and “granting $20,000 in scholarships to needy Wabash students.”.


Another incredible story tells of “The march on the SAE house” where some men at Phi Psi, Delt, and Sig Chi nabbed the bell from DePauw. A sorority had assisted them in discovering the location; it was hidden in the SAE house. The men rallied together at the
late hours of night as a convoy of Wabash plates headed to Greencastle. A herd of red and white paraded towards the house, others joining in as they advanced. Many were prepared for a full- fledged brawl. The men gathered in their front yard where an entourage of campus security and Dannies awaited their arrival. The Wabash group howled Old Wabash and other chants which might not be appropriate to repeat. The bell was locked down in an impenetrable safe in their basement, but that wouldn’t stop them. After a violent battle ensued, diplomats from each side met and decided that the bell would be handed over in a neutral location off campus. Despite not obtaining the bell that night, DePauw was no longer in possession of the bell and that would have to suffice until game day.

With other small skirmishes detailing the history of the heists, there will certainly
be more in the future. It’s important that we come together this week in unity to celebrate the rivalry and an unforgettable game that will be spoken of for years by players and fans alike. We encourage everyone to attend and spend some time with brothers, meet some alumni and savor the moment. It only happens once a year.