Holy Name Catholic Church reports loss of baby Jesus, Joseph
January 5, 2010
It's been an up-and-down month and a half for Holy Name Catholic Church.
It started in late November, when someone stole about $7,000 in checks and cash raised during a fundraiser.
The news was better Dec. 15, when the Steamboat Springs City Council approved the first and largest phase of a planned 15,382-square-foot, $5 million church expansion.
Two weeks later, a 17-year-old Steamboat Springs student reportedly turned himself in to police and returned most of the $7,000 in money stolen from Holy Name in November.
Then, last week, someone stole baby Jesus, Joseph and a lamb from the church's downtown Nativity scene.
In regards to the theft of money, police said the teen returned all of the $4,000 to $5,000 in stolen checks and most of the $2,000 in stolen cash. About $700 remains outstanding.
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"It was like a Christmas present for us" to have most of the money returned, Holy Name's Father Ernest Bayer said Monday.
Bayer said the church is working with the Steamboat Springs Police Department to create some sort of agreement for the teen. Police Capt. Bob DelValle said the "accountability agreement" could include public service time and a set amount of time in which the teen has to stay out of trouble. Capt. Joel Rae said other accountability contracts approved by the department have included stipulations that the student keep his grades up or have fewer absences at school.
Neither DelValle nor Rae had seen the agreement in this case, and the officers in charge were not in the office Monday.
The money, collected during a charity fundraiser, was reportedly taken from a locked case in the church office. The case was accessed by a key that was in a desk drawer.
Bayer said the church will begin to contact people whose checks were among those stolen and the people who gave extra donations to cover the cost of the theft.
He said the church will offer to void the checks, return them, or if the person has not canceled the check and still wants to donate, to accept them.
Bayer declined to say whether the teen was a member of the church.
The theft of the three Nativity figures has not been solved. Baby Jesus, Joseph and a lamb were stolen from the Nativity scene in front of the church. Bayer said the figures were screwed into a sheet of plywood.
He said he noticed them missing Saturday, but a parishioner told him they might have been missing all of the previous week.
Bob Dapper, a member of the Knights of Columbus group with the church, said he set up the Nativity this year in increments leading up to Christmas Day, adding the figures of Jesus, Joseph and Mary on Christmas Eve.
After the theft, Mary and a lamb remained, but the lamb had been knocked on its side.
The figures, slightly smaller than life size, were a couple hundred dollars each, Bayer estimated.
Dapper said they were purchased mostly with private donations.
To report any information about the missing Nativity pieces, call Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226. Dapper said there will be a reward for good information.
For questions about the missing checks, call the church at 970-879-0671.