KEARNY - Investigators are trying to figure out who snatched baby Jesus statues from five northern New Jersey churches since Christmas Eve.

The latest theft came at St. Clare Roman Catholic Church in Clifton. The Rev. Peter Glabik says the figurine was taken from its outdoor nativity scene between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday.

Deacon John Sarnas from Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Kearny says that he noticed his church’s Jesus stolen Saturday morning.

“When they pulled the statue out, they removed the crown from Jesus’ head and they just threw it on the ground,” he says.

James Goodness, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark, says thieves also made off with statues from churches in Lyndhurst and North Arlington. Authorities are working to determine if the thefts are related.

Goodness says he's hoping that the crimes are nothing more than pranks and that the statues are returned.

Anyone with information about the thefts is urged to contact police.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.