For the past eight years, a security and surveillance company has been offering Nativity scenes in the U.S. an extra form of safety during the holiday season by installing a free GPS tracking system on the display's baby Jesus figurine.
There are often multiple media reports around the holiday season of Jesus figurines going amiss, either by foolhardy teenagers or perhaps adults with more serious motives. For this common problem, Brickhouse Security has offered a "GPS Jesus" program that installs Spark Nano real-time GPS trackers into the baby figurines at nativity scenes. The service by the security company is offered free of charge for churches.
"If a nativity figurine is stolen or taken for a joy ride, victims will receive a text or email alert, and then be able to track the figurine's location in real time on any PC, smartphone or tablet," the company states on its website.
"We have even seen contests where the teenagers compete to see who can gather the most baby Jesuses," Todd Morris, CEO of BrickHouse Security, told Fox News.
Morris, who refers to the program as "Saving Jesus," added that his company has been providing the GPS trackers, which are reportedly the size of a zippo lighter, to churches and temples for the past several years because there has been a rash of stolen nativity scenes and stolen religious artifacts.
Fox News reports that the idea was initially hatched by Alan Czyzewski, a parishioner at St. Ambrose Church in Old Bridge, N.J., who a few years back saw a nearby nativity scene in his local community that had been vandalized and robbed of the baby Jesus. Czyzewski said he contacted Brickhouse Security shortly after and has been using their GPS tracker ever since.
"And the beauty of this is it really works and it's simple to use," Czyzewski told MyFoxDC.
"It gives me great pleasure to report that in the history of the Saving Jesus program, no holiday display equipped with a BrickHouse Security GPS tracking system has ever been victimized by thieves," Morris said in a 2012 Brickhouse Security blog post. "Maybe one day this program won't be necessary. But until that day comes, BrickHouse will keep doing its part to make the holiday season safer and more festive for everybody."
Rev. George Smith of St Mark's Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, told NBC News that his parish signed up for the "Saving Jesus" service after "two of the Wise Men disappeared and ended up at Four Lakes Ski Resort."
"Of course God knows where they are, but now maybe we have a better chance to know as well."
Although baby Jesus figurines are often stolen and never returned, in one unique case this year a baby Jesus doll that was stolen from the front yard of a funeral home in Cincinnati, Ohio was returned. The 65-year-old wax figurine, carved by the funeral home's owner Paul R. Young Sr., who died in March, was stolen on Christmas Eve last year and returned this year.
"Sometimes, something happens that restores your faith in humanity. This morning, our stolen Baby Jesus, the original one made by Paul Young, Sr., was returned. Maybe the real Jesus got to them," the Paul R. Young Funeral Home said in a recent statement on its website.