COVENTRY TWP. — Baby Jesus and his cradle have been stolen from a Coventry Township nativity display.

For the past two years, the display has been set up at Christmastime next to the Coventry Administration Building on Portage Lakes Drive. Township Fiscal Officer Robert Saffian said whoever stole the two items did it either Sunday or Monday night.

The township has filed a report with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

The nativity scene belongs to Cornerstone Church in Coventry and the display has history behind it.

The Rev. Bruce Oberlin of Cornerstone Church said the nativity scene used to be displayed outside the O’Neil's Department Store in downtown Akron.

“For those of us 45 and older we have fond memories of going to see that,” Oberlin said. “It was really a neat time in history to grow up as a kid.”

He said at that time it was very common for stores to go all out and decorate for Christmas.

Oberlin said when O’Neil's announced it was closing, several people were interested in purchasing the nativity scene. He said he believes the church paid about $1,100 for the display in the early 1980s.

The nativity scene remained on display at the Cornerstone Church on Killian Road until two years ago, when the church moved its services to Coventry Elementary School.

Coventry trustee Tom Seese, who attends Cornerstone Church, said when the church decided to move he approached them about displaying the nativity next to the township administration building.

Oberlin said this isn’t the first time the baby Jesus has been stolen. About five years ago, it was also stolen and eventually found. The next year, it was stolen again but never found. The church then purchased a new baby Jesus, which is the one that was stolen several nights ago.

Oberlin said the township and the church are disappointed that it is missed again. He is hopeful that someone will sneak baby Jesus back into the display just like they took it out.

“We have no desire to prosecute anyone,” Oberlin said.

Seese agrees with Oberlin that he hopes someone sneaks it back into the display.

“Let the residents of Coventry enjoy it for Christmas,” Seese said.

Since the nativity scene has been moved to Portage Lakes Drive, Oberlin said the church has had more comments than ever about it.

The church is offering a reward for anyone able to help locate the missing Baby Jesus and cradle.