An East Islip church twice has had the statue of a baby Jesus stolen from its Nativity scene, Suffolk police said Wednesday.
The latest theft from St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, now being investigated as a hate crime, occurred between Christmas Day at 1:15 p.m. and Monday at 9 a.m., police said.
However, a parishioner, Patricia Jensen, 79, of Islip, thought it more likely that some youths got carried away with a prank.
“My feeling is it’s like an ‘I dare you to do it’ type of thing,” she said.
“Younger people, they think it’s funny to go and steal it, now that they have it they don’t know what to do with it,” she said.
Though the church informed parishioners another $95 statue already has been ordered, Jensen said she hopes the thieves return the one they took.
After all, that is what happened a few years ago; the statue of the baby Jesus that was removed from the Nativity was returned, a police spokeswoman said.
Officials with the church and the diocese were not immediately available to comment.
Anyone with information about the theft should call 631-852-6181 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477.