Small Town News

Crime

Who stole Rehoboth's baby Jesus?

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Police seeking culprit who took nativity figure

Baby Jesus and his cradle have disappeared and a wise man was beheaded, both part of a popular nativity scene that stood on Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach through out the Christmas season. Police say the vandalism was a New Year's Eve prank.

"We've been out looking to see if the baby Jesus is in someone's yard or hidden somewhere," said Chief Keith Banks of the Rehoboth Beach Police Department.

Banks said police regularly checked the Kiwanis Club nativity scene at M&T Bank leading up to New Year's Eve and were certain the vandalism occurred New Year's Eve, when an increased number of people were in town.

Rosemary Cummings, secretary/treasurer for the Coastal Delaware Kiwanis Club, which has placed the display in Rehoboth for more than 50 years, said over the years people have knocked statues down, but no one ever stole anything or broke anything,

"I was shocked that it happened," Cummings said. "We watch it all the time to make sure the wind doesn't knock it down."

For decades, Cummings said, the nativity scene was set up near the Boardwalk where generations grew up admiring it, and it was rarely disturbed.

"All those years, it was protected," she sail

When Rehoboth Avenue streetscape began several years ago, the nativity scene was moved to its current spot in front of M&T Bank. Cummings said she believes the more remote location, with shrubbery nearby, encouraged vandals to target the Christmas scene. She believes the vandals turned the spotlights illuminating the nativity scene toward the street, shielding them from passersby

Banks estimated the damage was $500 for the wise man statue and $250 for the baby Jesus.

Cummings said she recently looked into replacing some of the statues, and the price tag was $5,000. Companies don't usually sell them separately, only in groups, and that drives the price up, she said.

If anyone finds the baby Jesus, Cummings said they could return the sculpture to Coastal Delaware Kiwanis House, 84 Kent St., Rehoboth Beach.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of baby Jesus or who broke the wise man is asked to call Det. William Sullivan at 227-2577, Crimestoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or the Kiwanis Club at 537-7979.



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Original Publication Date: January 6, 2012



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