Friday, December 25, 2009

Baby Jesus Theft

Baby Jesus theft is the theft of plastic or ceramic figurines of the infant Jesus (or, "Baby Jesus") from outdoor public and private nativity displays during the Christmas season. Some attribute such occurrences to juvenile pranksters while others wonder if the thefts have anti-Christian undertones. The prevalence of such thefts has caused the owners of outdoor manger scenes to protect their property with GPS devices, surveillance cameras, or by other means.

Washington DC journalist Daniel Nasaw of the online presence of Britain's The Guardian notes that dozens of communities across America have suffered thefts of Baby Jesus figurines, and, in some instances, entire nativity scenes. He observes that it is unclear whether such theft is on the rise, as it is not tracked by federal law enforcement.

Some nativity display owners have taken measures to secure their property against would-be thieves. Others are reluctant to exercise such vigilance. One Indiana man who suffered the loss of his Baby Jesus figurine rebuffed suggestions to secure the figurines on his porch because, "that would be like putting Jesus in jail". Traditional security measures are not always foolproof. The Baby Jesus fastened to the National Christmas Creche at Independence Hall disappeared within days.

While Baby Jesus thefts are largely regarded as pranks, they are set apart by the involvement of a religious icon. "They think it's a prank, but it isn't a prank to some of these people," Pennsylvania state police Corporal Paul Romanic told The Morning Call newspaper, in regards to an incident in which ten nativity scene figures were found in a yard after being stolen from across Bucks county, Pennsylvania. "Plus, it's just wrong to steal the baby Jesus."

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