Antique nativity set burglarized at Southpark Mall

Monday, January 8, 2018
Southpark Mall on Friday morning learned part of an antique nativity set which has been present for more than a decade at the mall during the Christmas season had been stolen. (Photo by Joseph Hopper)

Southpark Mall Manager Kathy Anderson was shocked Friday morning when mall staff learned part of an antique nativity set which has been present for more than a decade at the mall during the Christmas season had been stolen. The nativity set was originally purchased by the youth group of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Royal during the 1960s before being owned by the Franker and Fonley family, who have loaned the set to the mall each holiday season.

“We just noticed it this morning (Friday), I think it happened last night (Thursday),” Anderson said. “It just makes my heart sick.”

The pieces of the set are paper images set into wood, 2-D images that are propped up to make the biblical setting. The piece taken depicted a lamb.

Anderson said she did not understand the motive for the abduction of the antique.

“For someone to steal the lamb, ... ‘what are you going to do with it?’” Anderson asked. “... It’s a priceless item because it’s part of the set and it belongs to the manger, (but) it’s not something that someone is going to be able to sell and make any money off it. I hope to gosh they didn’t break it and throw it in some trash bin; ... it’s fragile.”

The mall manager remains hopeful whoever removed the lamb would have the heart to return it.

“We’d just like them to return it,” Anderson said. “If they want to bring it back to the doors after the mall’s closed or set it by the front door, we’ll take care of it no questions asked. We just really want the piece back. It’s part of the history of that church’s youth group, part of the Franker Fonley family history, it’s their heirloom and we just borrowed it; it’s not even ours, so please just bring it back.”

The timing to which the theft occurred was additionally troubling to Anderson, because she had delayed taking the nativity scene down until The Epiphany (also known as Three Kings’ Day).

“Saturday is The Epiphany, ... if I hadn’t have said that, the lamb wouldn’t have gotten taken, because it had been put away Monday,” Anderson said. “I left it out because of the wise men and their visit and that’s why it was still up. That kind of even more makes my heart sick.”

Those that have any information to the nativity piece’s whereabouts can call 262-8700.

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