Mystery of stolen Baby Jesus solved

December 29, 2011 (HOFFMAN ESTATES , Ill.)

It took some time, but the handmade statue has finally be reunited with its rightful owners.

Every year, through the media or its web site, the Hoffman Estate Police Department has reached out to the public trying to find the owners of a hand-painted Baby Jesus.

This year, police employees were determined to solve the mystery, and they did when am Inverness family spotted a photo of the statute on a Polish website.

After eight years, Chris Moore and Stacey Kenost are parting ways with Baby Jesus. The women are the property and evidence room managers of the Hoffman Estates Police Department. In 2003, on New Years Eve, this stolen figurine was turned into police after it was found in a resident's backyard.

"So we have spent the last eight years trying to find the owners," said Chris Moore, Hoffman Estates Police Department. "We've done newspaper articles, put it on our website."

Moore even asked for spiritual help from her church. Nearing retirement, Moore was determined that this would be the year to find Baby Jesus' home. Wednesday, she received a visit from the Urbaniak family.

"There was a picture, and we looked at it. We said, 'That looks like ours.' Then we took a photo album, and that's a complete match," said Patricia Urbaniak.

So, Thursday, Moore and members of the police department took Baby Jesus back to his Inverness home.

"We never thought this would come back after eight years," said Lucas Urbaniak.

Replacing a plastic Jesus, Mrs. Urbaniak placed Baby Jesus back in the manger. The family of Polish immigrants take pride in their nativity scene, one that has grown throughout the years, adding wise men, a camel and much more.

But it was never complete without the handmade Jesus.

"Because we knew it wasn't plastic, and it was so beautiful...had to get it back to the owner," said Moore.

Moore admits it is hard to part ways. "We've been together a long time," she said.

Baby Jesus thefts from nativity scenes are not uncommon. Police say teenagers are usually the culprits.

Hoffman Estates police say what was unusual about their eight-year-old case was the high quality of the figurine. Chris Moore thought it came from a church. She received hundreds of calls from people hoping the Baby Jesus was theirs. Moore says many callers wanted to adopt the statute if no one claimed it.

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