One security company is offering a solution to the problem of stolen baby Jesus figurines from Nativity displays by giving organizations GPS tracking devices.
"The holidays are about helping people," said Todd Morris, CEO of BrickHouse Security in New York. "The theft and vandalism of treasured holiday figures is a problem we can empower communities and congregations to solve. We're happy to expand the program and help even more people this year."
The name of the program is “Saving Jesus,” and this holiday season will mark the sixth year the company has supplied the devices to organizations and churches. Some years around 100 organizations have taken advantage of the offer, and BrickHouse anticipates many more to participate this year.
Qualifying organizations will receive the Spark Nano GPS Tracker device, which is described as “matchbox-sized” and can be hidden either on or in the Jesus figurines. BrickHouse even ships the device for free, and it comes fully activated and ready to use.
If the Jesus figurine is stolen from its manger once the GPS device is attached, the device will either send a text message or email the figurine's owner to alert him it has been taken. The GPS tracking capabilities will also allow the owner, or law enforcement officers, to track down the figurine regardless of where it is taken.
"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," said Morris. "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."
Central Presbyterian Church in Chambersburg, Penn., could have used the tracking system last week when their baby Jesus figurine was stolen from their Nativity scene just a day after the display was set up.
"We were all kind of shook by it, and disappointed,” said John Helgeson, pastor of Central Presbyterian, in an interview with The Christian Post on Friday. “We even prayed for the person who did that."
Helgeson says he was surprised anyone could even “pull it off,” because his church is located in a heavy-traffic area in a square downtown. The church has since replaced the former figurine with a doll, though it doesn't match the rest of the set, and Helgeson says some sort of GPS system “might be worth looking into.”
“It's really sad that this happens but, in the world we live in, unfortunately you have to take those types of situations seriously, and you have to deal with them," he said.
Marc Horowitz, the editorial director for BrickHouse Security, told The Christian Post why his company is providing the device for free.
"Frankly, we designed this program to do something helpful ... and the theft and vandalism of holiday stuff happens more than you might realize. It happens in community after community all over the country,” he said.
Though Jesus is the most popular target of holiday display thieves, the device is also available to protect Santa, reindeer, menorahs and a variety of other holiday symbols as well.
The company is not limiting the number of devices they are willing to distribute this Christmas season, and the tracking systems are being made available to any nonprofit, religious group or community that wants one for their own Nativity scene. BrickHouse will also consider sending a device to businesses on a case-by-case basis, Horowitz says, and will also consider sending one to groups in Canada as well.