Our family has put up an olive wood manger scene for the last ten years. My dad bought it through our family church and has a tendency to make the figurines stand in military precision, in one solid line, until December 24 when the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph along with all of the animals make their debut. Only the 3 wise men remain standing in a neat line, waiting until the Epiphany to surround the swaddled baby Jesus. It's outdoor manger scenes that are being stolen at a more frequent rate around the country that is raising some eyebrows. 

According to the Star Tribune, this year, thieves have raided Nativity scenes in Minnesota, Tennessee, West Virginia, and plenty of other places, and made off with Jesus figurines and sometimes other figurines as well.

The thefts that have happened in Minnesota recently include St. Cloud, where a Jesus statue was stolen from a historic set purchased by schoolchildren in the 1940s. And in Alexandria, where the baby Jesus disappeared from a crèche outside a bed-and-breakfast.

Theories about why the baby Jesus figurines and others have become targets are as abundant as the security measures thought up to protect them. Some owners of Nativity scenes have placed GPS devices inside or on figurines to track their movements should they be stolen. Some people have suggested that it is an erosion of faith that may be at the root.

Why else could someone walk away with the main character in a display honoring Jesus’ birth some 2,000 years ago in a Bethlehem stable? Some people say these are merely thoughtless teenage pranks.

Whatever the motive, stealing baby Jesus statues has joined a list of illicit holiday traditions, along with Christmas tree theft and porch pirating. Back in my high school days I often staged those light up lawn decorated deer pose in risque poses.

Over the next few days how about, we focus on presence rather than presents and treasure our loved ones, and leave the Nativity scenes alone.

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