PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia police are looking for a real Grinch this holiday season. The Holy Family was stolen from a Nativity scene in South Philadelphia’s Italian Market.
A local priest was planning to bless the Nativity scene on Saturday, but that opportunity is gone and the tight-knit South Philadelphia community is upset about it. They want to know who stole their Nativity scene and why.
Eyewitness News obtained surveillance video from nearby businesses, showing multiple angles of the suspect.
The video shows what appears to be a man getting out of a car. He walks over and unplugs the display lights, before grabbing baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
The suspect then carries the items back to the vehicle and drives away.
The scene is on private property.
For the past 15 years, local businesses have raised money to help set up the Nativity. This year, it cost $500.
It took a week-and-a-half to set up the display, and it was up for about week before it was stolen.
“It’s Christmas and this is Christmas. We don’t really do a big tree on 9th Street. We’ve always done the Nativity. We’re probably one of the only streets in Philadelphia that puts a Nativity up and nobody’s tree is bothered but it always seems to be a problem with our Nativity and that’s why it’s heartbreaking to spend all that time. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. There’s no reason to vandalize and steal it,” said organizer Cookie Ciliberti.
Ciliberti says baby Jesus has been stolen in the past, but never the entire Holy Family.
“We even have a sign that tells you, ‘Smile: God is watching you and so are we,'” said Ciliberti.
The gaping hole is now an eyesore to residents in the neighborhood.
“It’s terrible,” said Ana Marie. “I think it’s terrible.”
Ciliberti ordered a new Nativity and hopes to have that reinstalled in about three days.
If you have any information about this incident, call police.