Police are looking for the thieves who stole several lawn ornaments from New Jersey homes this week, including a 150-pound Virgin Mary statue that one family says is an important heirloom meant to welcome guests.
The statue was one of eight ornaments stolen from lawns in Old Bridge from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, police say. Other ornaments taken were religious symbols, animal statues and a figurine of a boy fishing.
Investigators think the thefts are connected and could be part of a scavenger hunt.
The Virgin Mary statue had been in Darlene Burbridge's family for decades, she said, and she had hoped to pass it on to her children. She said the family heirloom had safely made it through several moves up and down the East Coast prior to being stolen.
“I remember being the same size as her and standing next to her,” she said. “I don’t remember not having her around.”
Her fiance, Vincent Niemiec, said the theft was a was a violation on many levels.
“I’m sleeping 3 feet away from where the Virgin Mary is supposed to protect me and my fiancee, and it was stolen,” Niemiec said. “I mean what do you do, chain the Virgin Mary down?”
Niemiec said if the figurine is returned to their local church, they won't press charges against the thief and won’t ask any questions.
“Return it,” he said. “Please return it.”