GPS finds fugitive figurines

Not long ago, someone took the baby Jesus from a public nativity display and replaced him with a pumpkin. NPR says that “a fair number of purloined baby Jesuses and misappropriated menorahs make it onto police blotters every year.” Instead of tying the Christ child’s wrist to a manger with a bicycle chain, churches and synagogues are using GPS chips to track down stolen religious ornaments.

EpiScope pointed to a USA Today story:

Churches, synagogues and other places that display holiday scenes are taking a high-tech approach to an old holiday tradition: theft. They’re embedding Jesus figures, menorahs and Santa statues with global positioning system satellite tracking devices.

St. Marks Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill. is installing the devices in each of the figurines in its 40-year-old nativity scene. There is Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, one wise man, a camel, a donkey and a sheep. There used to be a cow, but it was “borrowed” two years ago and hasn’t been returned, says Rev. George Smith.

Local lore has it that two of the church’s wisemen were stolen about 10 years ago and later found on a ski slope, he says.

NPR says:

A Lubavitch synagogue in Philadelphia will install a GPS chip on one menorah and a camera on another.

Rabbi Yochonon Goldman says, “It’s sad … but it’s the reality we’re faced with.”

A GPS chip can guide police to the pilfered figurine or menorah so they can determine if the thief is a prankster, plunderer or bigot. Perhaps even the suspicion that the three wise men may be bearing a chip inside their gold, frankincense, and myrrh will be enough to deter menorah muggers and baby Jesus burglars.

In other words: So be good for goodness sake!

Tracking down the stolen figures with GPS can also help determine if the theft is a prank, vandalism or a hate crime.

Read the rest here and here.

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