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Police probe stolen baby Jesus

Dec. 03, 2012 @ 11:05 PM

HUNTINGTON -- A local business hopes surveillance video helps police identify the thief who disturbed the solitude of a downtown nativity scene by stealing a decorative baby Jesus from its manger.

Two surveillance cameras depict a younger adult male, casually dressed with a side backpack, walk onto the nativity's platform at 12:53 a.m. Friday. He swiped the baby Jesus and fled in a matter of seconds, jerking it away with such force that he lifted industrial-strength Velcro used to hold the decoration in place.

Becki Carpenter has watched the videos numerous times since. Her emotion and determination grow with each viewing.

"I become more frustrated that somebody would actually take Baby Jesus from a nativity scene," she said. "The thought of that is just very shocking. Total disbelief that somebody would do that."

The nativity graces the porch of a house in the 1100 block of 5th Avenue, a building which serves as the administrative offices for McDonald's restaurants in Ashland and the Huntington area. Carpenter serves as its local store marketing director.

The local McDonald's operator, Tom Wolfe, purchased the nativity at a Costco. It retails for more than $1,000, but Carpenter said her boss purchased it on sale for just over $500. He also bought the surveillance system and construction materials for the nativity's wooden platform.

Carpenter estimates the project took eight hours Thursday for herself and two others to complete. They placed the surveillance video and Velcro as a precaution, never believing somebody might actually steal such items, much less within 12 hours of its construction.

"It wasn't something that was just thrown up with no thought," she said. "This is a nativity set that folks going down 5th Avenue, through the town of Huntington, can really enjoy. With baby Jesus missing, it didn't fulfill the total meaning of the nativity."

A baby doll lay in the decorative manger Monday morning as a temporary replacement. The original, now missing decoration, was part of a nine-piece nativity set. It was transported in three boxes with some figures standing more than 3 feet tall.

Carpenter reported the theft Monday to police. She handed over the company's surveillance videos hoping those recordings yield an arrest. She and Wolfe believe a minimum of 40 hours community service would be an appropriate punishment.

Huntington Police Detective Chris Sperry said the matter remains under investigation. Anyone with information about the incident should contact the police tip line at 304-696-4444 or detectives at 304-696-4420. Information can be given anonymously.

How you can help?

Police urge anyone with information about the identify of the man who took a decorative baby Jesus to contact the Huntington Police Department Tip Line at 304-696-4444 or the Detective Bureau at 304-696-4420. Information can be given anonymously.



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