Matthew Albright / HoumaToday.com
HOUMA, La. - While some local Grinches may not have managed to steal Houma’s Christmas, they did make off with some of the city’s Christmas decorations — and kidnapped its baby Jesus.
The infant figure disappeared from the manger scene near the Houma courthouse soon after Thanksgiving, said Ann Picou, Terrebonne Parish downtown development coordinator.
“This is something that’s happened several times over the last couple of years,” Picou said. “Last year our Joseph walked off at some point.”
Picou said the parish had already spent its decorations budget on new lights to replace some of the aging ones, so there wasn’t money to buy another babe in swaddling clothes.
“There was certainly no religious or political reason for us not having a nativity this year,” Picou said. “We just didn’t have a Jesus. We fully expect to have the manger scene out again next year.”
Nationally, manger Jesuses seem to be common targets for those destined for the naughty list — Google News showed more than 3,700 news reports of manger scene thefts this year.
“Baby Jesus thefts” are apparently common enough to merit their own article on online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Picou said thefts of parish holiday decorations aren’t new. She said some lights placed on local bridges also vanished.
She chalked up the thefts to bored kids.
“They probably don’t have any ill will or anything,” Picou said. “It’s probably just funny to them.”
Still, Police Chief Todd Duplantis said Santa’s not the only one watching out for holiday heists — stealing Christmas lights is considered theft, the penalties for which vary based on the value of the stolen goods.
Duplantis said police receive complaints of stolen decorations fairly frequently.
“It can be anything from lights to those inflatable things you see to parts of the nativity scene,” Duplantis said.
Most stolen decorations cost less than $500, which means the thief could face a misdemeanor fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
“We take it seriously, just like we do any other theft,” Duplantis said.
Staff Writer Matthew Albright can be reached at 448-7635 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.