“Good news,” the police officer said over the phone. “We have found Jesus.”
When workers at the community center in Wellington, Florida, heard the report, they weren’t thinking that the officers at the local police department had all simultaneously accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. No, the news meant that police had found their baby Jesus—the small figurine that had been stolen a few days earlier from the Nativity scene set up outside the building.
The missing Jesus at the Wellington com- munity center wasn’t the first such case.
Every year, news reports from around the country tell of a small but unfortu- nate truth about the modern American Christmas: Some people get a kick out of stealing parts of the Nativity displays set up outside of homes and churches. More often than not, baby Jesus is the target—possibly because it’s easier for the average thief to haul off than a shepherd or one of the wise men’s camels. But these thieves probably understand what message they are sending by removing the most important figure from the scene. Sometimes that tone of hostility is clear. In 2008, a church in Pennsylvania noticed that their statue of baby Jesus had been stolen and replaced with a moldy pumpkin.
How did Wellington police find the community center’s baby Jesus? Since this wasn’t the first time the figurine had been stolen, police officers recommended that a global positioning system (GPS) tracker be installed inside the baby Jesus to help track down the statue in the event it went missing. BrickHouse Security, a surveillance company based in New York, has in recent years donated hundreds of these monitoring devices to various churches, retirement homes and other organizations. When unexpected movement of a Nativity piece occurs, BrickHouse’s computer systems send text notifications to alert staff members to the theft. Police can then follow the satellite tracking information through a computer or mobile phone to find the stolen property.
It’s not quite a star in the Eastern sky, but it seems to do the job. BrickHouse claims that 100 percent of stolen Nativity figures using their GPS technology have been recovered. Wellington police tracked the community center’s stolen Jesus to an apartment complex and found the statue in a young woman’s home.
Even with modern technology helping to solve these crimes, it’s a shame that it’s needed at all. Marion Crum, a resident at a retirement home in Indiana that recently had their Jesus figure stolen, gave future would-be Jesus thieves a few words of wisdom. “If you want Jesus in your life, you don’t have to steal Him,” he said.
Indeed. The real gift of Christmas is that Jesus is free.
(Devotional credit: “Have You Found Jesus”, ThrivingFamily.com )