It’s the ultimate crime against Christmas: stealing baby Jesus from his manger. And this sort of thing happens more often than you may think.
The latest incident took place Christmas morning at the Sacred Hearts church in Haverhill, Mass., where a baby Jesus doll was replaced with a freshly-severed pig’s head, an act officials are investigating as a possible hate crime.
“I’m absolutely outraged by this incident, which does have all the elements of a hate crime,” said Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini at a Friday news conference, the Boston Globe reported.
A police spokesman told the Globe that the pig didn’t appear to have come from a butcher because it still had hair, and animal cruelty charges could also be filed if the pig was killed for the crime.
While the Sacred Hearts theft appears to be especially heinous, there have been other nativity thefts this year. Here are a few:
$3,000 Italian baby Jesus doll stolen
Police in Greenfield, Mass. said on Wednesday morning, “it was discovered that the baby Jesus doll from the creche on the town common had been forcibly removed and stolen.”
And that doll, police told WWLP, cost $3,000 and was imported from Italy.
State Capitol baby Jesus swiped
A nativity scene outside of the Washington state capitol has been the target of repeated thefts. Sometime on or around Sunday, someone swiped the baby Jesus from the simple nativity scene erected by Ron Wesselius, the News Tribune reported.
Wesselius, who started putting the annual display up a few years ago, said this is the third time his baby Jesus has been stolen. Police are investigating.
“We don’t want people’s stereos stolen out of their cars when they visit the Capitol. We don’t want women’s purses stolen. And we don’t want a baby Jesus stolen out of a manger scene,” Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins told the paper.
Baby Jesus stolen, church replaces it with a lamb
The baby Jesus in front of Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C. has been missing for more than a week, WSOC reported. The pastor told the station that the nativity scene cost thousands of dollars, and they’ve replaced baby Jesus with a lamb.
“We know this time of year, Christmas season, that sometimes things like this happen. But, we just want baby Jesus back if that’s possible,” senior associate pastor Allen Rash told WLOS.
Vandals have hit the church before; about three years ago, words on a billboard outside had been rearranged into an inappropriate phrase, both stations reported.
Baby Jesus gets a GPS tracking device
A baby Jesus doll had been stolen from the Indiana Masonic Home’s nativity scene in Franklin, Ind. earlier this month. After the doll was returned a few days later, the retirement community decided to equip the figurine with a tracking device, WXIN reported.
A New York-based security firm donated the monitoring devices for the statues, the station reported. “That’s where technology is keeping up with the evil that’s out there,” Masonic Home facilities manager Jerry Loper told the station.
But one resident had some wise words to add: “If you want Jesus in your life, you don’t have to steal him,” Marion Crum said.
Virgin Mary vanishes again
Nebraska woman Sharon Cyr has had her Virgin Mary stolen repeatedly. The one taken this Christmas season actually came from a replacement set, KETV reported.
“I was like, ‘what the heck, it happened again!'” she told the station.
The previous set she had was a gift from her mother; that Virgin Mary was holding baby Jesus, so both figurines were taken. She’s offered a $100 reward for the Virgin Mary taken this year.
“I would say just bring Mary back,” Cyr told the station. “No questions asked. I just would like her back.”