A North Jersey priest says his congregants are upset after a thief swiped a baby Jesus statue from the church's first-ever outdoor Nativity scene.
The theft occurred sometime over the weekend at St. Clare Catholic Church, in Clifton, Passaic County.
Father Peter Galbik said the Nativity scene is the church's first, and that church members were disheartened by the theft.
"Our people put so much money into building this. This is our first Nativity ever in this parish," Galbik said. "Whether this is a prank or not, it's a foolish prank. I'm very saddened [that] someone thinks this is funny."
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Authorities said at least four other statues have been stolen from other Nativity scenes in the area. The thefts are under investigation.
On its website and Facebook page, the church shared photos of the missing Jesus statue.
"We are deeply disturbed that some group or person stole the baby Jesus from the outdoor Nativity," the church's website reads. "We need to let people know that a crime like this will not be tolerated."
In Pennsylvania, Trinity Church in Easton posted on Facebook that the baby Jesus statue was also stolen from its Nativity sometime after Christmas Eve.