Two Brookings teenage girls were cited for theft and criminal mischief after they were caught on video taking the baby Jesus doll from the manger scene at Azalea Park and scribbling profanity on it, authorities said.
It was just the latest in a string of incidents reported at the Nature’s Coastal Holiday light display since before it opened Dec. 1.
“We have a lot of video surveillance coverage at the park and we were able to identify the suspects right away,” said Brookings Police Lt. Donny Dotson.
Four teenage girls were at Azalea Park at 3:45 p.m. Monday when two of the girls, ages 13 and 14, took the doll. They returned it a short time later, at which time they used a black marker to write profanity and draw a mustache on the doll, Dotson said.
The vandalism was reported by volunteers at the light display at 5:30 p.m. Police reviewed video taken by one of 14 cameras at the park and were able to identify several of the girls by 6 p.m., Dotson said.
“The video quality is excellent,” he said.
Two of the girls confessed to police later that evening, he said. The girls will likely appear in juvenile court, get possible probation and “cost their parents some money,” he said.
Dotson added, “It’s sad that we have to have cameras in the park to prevent this type of thing from happening, but if we didn’t, it would be the end of Nature’s Coastal Holiday.”
There are several permanent video cameras in the park, but additional cameras were installed in the last week when volunteers reported prior to the display opening that vandals were unplugging and removing lights.
“We put cameras in known trouble spots,” Dotson said.
Although the baby Jesus doll remains in police custody as evidence, a second doll has been placed in the manger, Kitchen said.