Brass gongs and bells meant to help boats navigate in poor visibility are being stolen from buoys off Maine's coast.

The Coast Guard says the sounding devices have been stolen over the past six months and it's seeking the public's help in finding them.

The Coast Guard says the devices are valuable and most likely are being sold to nautical novelty stores or scrap yards. Coast Guard Lt. Matthew Odom says the thefts put lives at risk, cost taxpayers money and create unnecessary work for crews that tend buoys.

Tampering with an aid to navigation is a federal crime. It's punishable by fines of up to $25,000 per day and as much as a year in jail.