- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

SAYREVILLE, N.J. (AP) — Four teens stole 27 baby Jesus statues from Nativity scenes outside churches and homes and planned to burn them, police said.

Two of the suspects, who ranged from 15 to 19 years old, said they acted out of boredom, authorities said.

“They were looking for things to do,” Detective Ken Kelly said. “They told us, ‘We were going to have a baby Jesus burning party.’”

One suspect told detectives, “We just wanted to see their heads burning,” Detective Kelly said.

The suspects, who were arrested Monday, face charges of theft, criminal mischief, destruction of venerated objects and conspiracy and could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Robert Olson, whose 18-year-old son, Christopher, was charged, said he and his family were shocked by the arrest.

“Although Chris is sometimes misguided, this was not something we expected out of him,” he said.

Mr. Olson said his son is unemployed and working toward resuming his high school education. The teen is on probation for a disorderly-persons offense involving a disagreement with a neighbor, his father said.

“I hope my son and the others will come to grips with what they’ve done and make full restitution and get whatever help they need to get rid of those feelings,” Mr. Olson said.

Frank Payne, whose 19-year-old son, Michael, also was charged, said bias was not a factor.

“Michael has been hanging around with the wrong people,” he said. “He goes to college. He’s an outstanding young kid.”

Also charged were 18-year-old Nicholas Hess and a 15-year-old who was not identified because of his age, police said.

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