Edwardsville Police have made progress in finding the baby Jesus stolen from the nativity scene in front of St. Boniface Catholic Church.
Someone stole the baby Jesus out of the creche scene during the Christmas weekend, and church officials first noticed it missing on Dec. 28. The Jesus figurine was made of handpainted Italian ceramic and its value is estimated at about $250.
“We have some leads, though it’s too soon to say whether those leads will pan out,” said Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven.
Police have conducted some interviews and are hopeful that they may bring the case to a “successful conclusion” in the next week or two, Keeven said.
As the stolen property is valued at less than $500, it is likely that charges would consist of misdemeanor theft and disorderly conduct, unless it is a subsequent offense, Keeven said.
“It’s not the theft itself; it’s like stealing a piece of Christmas from the church,” Keeven said.
After the theft, St. Boniface placed a sign beside the empty manger that read, “Attn. Thief: You can steal our baby Jesus but you can’t steal our spirit.”
The last reported baby-Jesus theft in Edwardsville happened at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church several years ago. St. Andrew’s is the next-door neighbor to St. Boniface, and when its Jesus figurine was stolen, the thief left a note that read, “Think for yourself.”
But Keeven said no note was left at St. Boniface, and police are fairly sure it is ordinary mischief, not a political statement or harassment. However, he said, it isn’t a joke.
“This is not a funny prank, it’s depriving people of their property,” Keeven said.