It's an annual event: Churches and other facilities putting out creches and other displays for Christmas find parts of it -- typically the baby Jesus -- stolen, with both a financial and a sentimental cost.
Now, those facilities are equipping their baby Jesuses with GPS in order to track them down when they're stolen.
According to the Associated Press, New York-based BrickHouse Security is offering up to 200 nonprofit religious institutions a free month's use of security cameras and LightningGPS products it distributes. Chief executive officer Todd Morris said the idea was born after a few churches asked about one-month rentals.
So far, about 70 churches and synagogues have taken him up on the offer. In fact, the first 20 or so applications came from synagogues looking to protect menorahs, Morris told the AP.
Using GPS is a step up; as of a couple of years ago, facilities began using security cameras to help deal with a rash of thefts (including one perpetrated by a 70-year-old grandmother). GPS units to track baby Jesuses were reportedly first used last year, when a Florida city repurposed a unit used for mosquito spraying.
Statistics on annual thefts of baby Jesus and other December acts of religious vandalism are sadly lacking, but according to BrickHouse, it amounts to the hundreds every year.
Churches interested in applying for the offer can do so through the BrickHouse website.