ST. CLOUD -- A nativity scene with a long tradition in St. Cloud is missing a very important piece. Someone has stolen the statue of the baby Jesus.

The nativity is owned by the Stearns History Museum and is on display outside the U.S. Bank building on West St. Germain Street.

So the biggest piece of this for me is that this piece has been a part of city tradition, and the downtown tradition, since the 1940s.

Museum Executive Director Carrie Essig says they've had an agreement with the bank to set-up the display for Christmas for many years and have never had a problem with theft of vandalism. Somebody cut a cable and took the statue sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.

Essig says she's hoping for its safe return.

The message that I really wanted to get out was, I am hoping that its some sort of mischief rather than some sort of malintent and that I would appreciate it if whoever took it -- or stole it, frankly -- brings it back.

Essig says the thief can bring the baby Jesus back to the nativity scene, the Stearns History Museum, or the police department, with no questions asked.

Obviously, a nativity set isn't complete without a baby Jesus so we'd like to get it back as soon as possible.

Also, Essig asks residents to be on the lookout, if you happen to find the statue discarded somewhere around town.