By CBSNewYork Team

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A thief targeted a church in New Jersey, stealing pieces of its Nativity display.

The crime happened Sunday night outside Holy Cross Catholic Church in Woodland Park.

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(credit: Holy Cross Church)

The manger is now empty outside the church. The statues of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus were stolen after being displayed every Christmas season for 25 years, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Thursday.

“Shocking. Why would anybody do such a thing such at a wonderful time of the year?” parishioner Fran Cuccinello said.

Cuccinello, who also works at the church, said the entire congregation is praying for the statues’ return.

Baker pointed out the Nativity is an important part of the Christmas celebration and had been with the church.

“Yes, it was donated by one of the church members in memory of her mom, who has just passed away, herself,” Cuccinello said.

Natalie Cyman is the pastor’s daughter.

“I hope the people who stole it will do the right thing and bring it back. That’s honestly all we ask for,” Cyman said.

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The vehicle that pulled up to the church was caught on camera.

“It was caught on camera, but the glare blurred out the license plate,” Cyman said.

Pastor Joseph Cyman said two of the statues, which weigh more than 50 pounds, were loaded into the back of an SUV at around 9 p.m. on Sunday.

“That video was watched by Woodland Park police detective and to their best knowledge, it is a white Mercedes, year 2011,” Joseph Cyman said.

Police and the pastor are asking people in the neighborhood to check their doorbell cameras to see if they picked up the license plate.

“We are Christians showing forgiveness, and so that’s their mistake. And I don’t think it’s worth it for them. It is of great value for us, and so I think they can recognize their mistake and change their hearts and bring it back,” Joseph Cyman said.

Each of the statues is handcrafted and, together, the nativity scene is worth more than $3,000.

Anyone with information is asked to call the parish office at (201) 247-4832 or (973) 256-4888, or Woodland Park police at (973) 345-8111.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team