Residents and organizations in and around Moundsville displaying Nativity scenes for Christmas are encouraged to keep a sharp eye on them, as Baby Jesus statues have been stolen from three different Nativity scenes in the area.
For law enforcement officials, the news is unfortunate but not unusual for this time of the year.
"Every year, people go around and steal other people's holiday decorations," Moundsville Police Chief Tom Mitchell said Tuesday, noting it seems like a sort of annual holiday prank. "This time of year, we have a lot of incidents of thefts."
Photo by Daniel Dorsch
The Nativity scene at Temple Baptist Church on Second Street in Moundsville is one of three in Moundsville missing their Baby Jesus statues, because of a theft over the weekend.
If the thefts are a prank, the Nativity owners are not amused.
"With all that's going on right now, we don't need this," said Councilman Phil Remke, a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier Parish Church on the corner of Seventh Street and Jefferson Avenue.
Remke said parishioners noticed the Baby Jesus statue missing from the church Friday evening.
He added that nothing else in the Nativity scene was disturbed. Mary and Joseph remain where they were set up, looking down on an empty spot where Jesus should lay.
"We hope we find it," said Remke. "We just need Christ in Christmas."
The Nativity scene for Temple Baptist Church on Second Street is also missing its Jesus. Pastor Jim Higginson said the theft is a sad sign.
"I think it's indicative of the direction our society's going," said Higginson. "Not even Jesus is safe in Christmas."
The theft of the Temple Baptist Church Baby Jesus could not have been a quick and easy action, either, Higginson said.
"I know he (Baby Jesus) was wired down," Higginson said. "They couldn't just pick him up. They had to cut him loose."
A third Nativity was robbed of its Baby Jesus at an undisclosed private residence in Marshall County.
Higginson said he hopes the thief will either be caught or compelled to return the statues, since he believes the crime has been shared with others who might be willing to report it to police.
"Whoever did it told somebody else," said Higginson. "That was their big mistake."
Mitchell agreed with this logic, and he urged residents to report anything suspicious they see this holiday season.
"This falls under the category of suspicious activity," Mitchell said. "If you see someone messing with someone else's lawn decorations or carrying something they shouldn't, call us and we'll gladly answer."
Mitchell added that a recent report of suspicious activity led to a drug arrest. A resident saw someone carrying something suspicious and called police. When the suspect was searched, drugs were found on his person and he was arrested.
Anyone with information relevant to this investigation is asked to call Moundsville Police Department at 304-845-1611.