Frank McKee said he got a call from police over the weekend about McKee's stolen baby Jesus. Police said they believed they might have found his missing figure, according to McKee.
But it turned out the recovered baby Jesus had been stolen from a Dover-area nativity scene, he said.
Whoever stole the baby Jesus from Frank McKee's front-yard nativity scene on Christmas night stole more than a 14-inch concrete figure that McKee said would cost at least $100 to replace.
"It's more about the sentimental value," said McKee, of Wedgewood Way in West Manchester Township. "We've had him for 14 years."
Placing the Jesus figure in its manger is an annual event that brings together the neighborhood, he said.
McKee, with help from local youths, erects the nativity scene every year, but leaves the manger empty.
"We give the baby Jesus to one of the families in the neighborhood to hold until Christmas Eve," he said, then the McKees and their neighbors gather at the nativity on Christmas Eve to lay the figure in its crèche.
"One of our neighbors reads from Luke," and everyone drinks cider and hot chocolate, McKee said. "It's just a nice thing."
Festival: McKee's Honey Run neighborhood also has a large luminary festival every year around Christmastime, and people from all over drive there to see the lighted displays, he said.
Some seem moved by the baby Jesus.
"I've seen people kneel down in front of it, and some people leave notes," McKee said, including prayers.
McKee said while he's disappointed, he also knows the theft must be put into perspective.
"It's Christmas," he said. "So you shake it off and you go on."
'Unfortunate': The figure, which police said was wrapped in a red blanket, was stolen sometime between Christmas evening and the next morning. West Manchester Township Police confirmed they're investigating.
"It's unfortunate," McKee said. "There's no (other) use for a concrete baby Jesus that I can find.
He said it would be wonderful if the thief or thieves simply placed the baby Jesus back in the manger and quietly slipped away.
"I'd love to have him back," McKee said. "It's kind of like the missing-man formation now."
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 792-9514.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at email@example.com.