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Nativity Statues Worth Over $1 Million Stolen

Thieves using a blowtorch broke into a church in Naples and made off with hundreds of 19th-century shepherd statues from a Nativity scene, the police said Monday.
( [email protected] ) Dec 20, 2006 04:50 PM EST

ROME (AP) - Thieves using a blowtorch broke into a church in Naples and made off with hundreds of 19th-century shepherd statues from a Nativity scene, the police said Monday.

The figures were stolen from a crèche inside San Nicola alla Carità church in central Naples, said Cesare Nalli of the Carabinieri police.

The thieves got in through a side entrance and then stole only statues of shepherds, leaving other figures behind.

Nalli said he did not know how much the statues were worth, but news reports said the total value was about $1.3 million.

Displaying Nativity scenes in the weeks before Christmas is an old tradition in Italy, with some of the most elaborate ones in Naples.

Several streets in the historic heart of the city are lined with craft shops selling hand-carved or manufactured crèche figures for home collections, with many of the pieces fetching hundreds of euros each. The pastor of the church was not immediately available for comment.

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