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Bedford County deputies have arrested and charged three adults and two juveniles for their involvement in the theft of figures from the Shiloh United Methodist Church nativity scene.
John Killgo, 19 of Forest, Scott Cooley, 19 of Forest, and Matthew Barringer, 19, of Forest, are charged with grand larceny, felony property damage, trespassing on church property after dark and two counts of contributing to a minor.
The two juveniles are charged with grand larceny, felony property damage and trespassing on church property after dark. Both juveniles were transported to and are being held in the Lynchburg Detention Home.
The arrests occurred after receiving a tip from a crime stoppers caller. Deputies believe the suspects destroyed the figures. The church estimates value of the 12 figures to be between $2,000.00 and $2,500.00.
The figurines, which had not been recovered, were taken from Shiloh United Methodist Church, 18121 Forest Rd, located at the corner of Graves Mill Road and Forest Road.
A church member told the Bedford County Sheriff's Office that the items were stolen sometime between 9 p.m. Sunday night and 6 a.m. Monday.
The stolen figures: three wise men, two sheep, one shepherd, one cow, one camel, one donkey, Mary and Joseph, and baby Jesus. All that was left was a sheep and the stable.
The figures were three to four feet tall, freshly painted and had been used for close to 50 years.
“You have to ask yourself, 'what are people thinking when they do stuff like that',” Gardner said. “It's just sad.”
The figurines had a value of up to $2,000. Both juveniles and adults were suspected of being involved in thefts.
Kenneth Revis Sr., a church trustee and chairman of the church council, has been responsible for putting out the Nativity scene for years, usually around the first week of December.
Prior to this, he said there have been few problems, and never to this extent. “They've taken Baby Jesus a couple of times,” Revis said of prior incidents. “But they've never touched anything else. We've been very blessed.”
He said the thefts are simply part of “society today.”
“You hear about it all the time,” Revis said of Nativity scenes being vandalized. “It happens almost every year to some church or religious organization.”
He said the merchants and homeowners in the area enjoy the Nativity. If he's late getting it up, Revis said he hears about it.
Nativity scenes are not set out in front of churches like they once were, Revis said. “It used to be every church put one out, but you don't see them that much anymore.”
Revis said he and his wife and other family members repainted the Nativity pieces last year. Replacing them could be a problem, if they're not recovered.
“I don't even know if you can buy them that big,” he said. “They just took everything.”
Except the lamb.
“I set him out last night. We've still got him out,” Revis said. “That's better than nothing. It will be symbolic also.”
Revis said the “pranksters” had left some beer cans up there when they took the Nativity pieces.
“It's just sad. It's a symbol of the season,” he said. “It's for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
“It's something you try to put out there for the folks, whether they go to church or don't go to church.”
Anyone with additional information on this crime is asked to contact Central Virginia Crime Stoppers at 888-798-5900 or the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office at 540-586-7827.
All crime stopper callers remain anonymous and could receive a reward up to a $1,000.