WOODLAND PARK, NJ (CBSNewYork) – A thief targeted a church in New Jersey, stealing pieces of its nursery.
The crime happened Sunday night outside Holy Cross Catholic Church in Woodland Park.
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The manger is now empty outside the church. The statues of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus have been stolen after being on display every Christmas season for 25 years, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Thursday.
“Shocking. Why would anyone do such a thing at such a wonderful time of the year?” Said parishioner Fran Cuccinello.
Cuccinello, who also works at the church, said the entire congregation is praying for the return of the statues.
Baker stressed that the Nativity is an important part of the Christmas celebration and had been with the church.
“Yes, it was donated by one of the church members in memory of his mother, who just passed away herself,” Cuccinello said.
Natalie Cyman is the pastor’s daughter.
“I hope the people who stole him do the right thing and bring him back. That’s honestly all we ask, ”Cyman said.
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The vehicle that stopped at the church was filmed.
“It was filmed, but the glare scrambled the license plate,” Cyman said.
Pastor Joseph Cyman said two of the statues, which weigh more than 50 pounds, were loaded into the back of an SUV around 9 p.m. Sunday.
“This video was watched by Woodland Park Police detectives and to their knowledge it is a 2011 white Mercedes,” said Joseph Cyman.
Police and the pastor are asking residents of the neighborhood to check their doorbell cameras to see if they have recovered the license plate.
“We are forgiving Christians, so this is their mistake. And I don’t think it’s worth it for them. It’s of great value to us, so I think they can recognize their mistake and change their hearts and bring it back, ”said Joseph Cyman.
Each of the statues is handcrafted, and together the nativity scene is worth over $ 3,000.
Anyone with information is asked to call the parish office at (201) 247-4832 or (973) 256-4888, or the Woodland Park Police at (973) 345-8111.
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Meg Baker of CBS2 contributed to this report.