Nativity theft being probed as hate crime

HOLBROOK, N.Y., Dec. 20 (UPI) — Police say that the theft of one of the three kings from a New York nativity scene appears to be a hate crime.

The missing king is Balthasar, an African, and he was replaced by a white sheet hanging from a pole, possibly a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan, police said. The nativity scene was outside a Lutheran church in Holbrook on the east end of Long Island.

It is the second time the figure has been stolen. Church members crafted a new one.

“When it was taken two years ago we figured it was just taken,” the Rev. William Bloom, pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church, told Newsday. “But now it seems that someone has a problem.”

Police are trying to determine if the theft of the figure is related to vandalism of a menorah, the Jewish eight-branched candlestick of Hanukkah, at a shopping center.

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