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Thieves take Jesus statue from church cross

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  • No one is sure when statue of Jesus was taken
  • Thieves might have mistaken the green plaster for copper
  • Theft has been rising as price of scrap metal soars
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DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- Thieves who stole an 8-foot statue of Jesus Christ off a crucifix in Detroit may have been seeking copper to sell as scrap. Problem is, it's made of plaster.

art.jesus.jpg

Thieves ripped an 8-foot plaster statue of Jesus Christ from a wooden cross at a Detroit, Michigan, church.

The Rev. Barry Randolph said Wednesday that the statue at the Church of the Messiah is green and looks like copper, one of several metals coveted by thieves because of soaring scrap prices.

Thieves have damaged copper pipes and stolen aluminum gutters at the church over the past few months, said Donya Ray-Gregg, a member of the congregation, which over the years has dwindled from about 350 members to 50.

It's unclear when the statue was snatched. A parishioner noticed it missing Monday from its perch on the side of the church, 10 feet above the ground. A small piece of plaster was found nearby.

The church has made a public plea for help.

"It is so crazy," Randolph said. "It's been there for so long and was a symbol of hope to a lot of people in this neighborhood."

Police were investigating, but department spokesman James Tate said it was doubtful thieves had mistaken the plaster statue for copper.

"People who steal copper know what copper is and what it feels like," Tate said. "There is no way they would think a plaster statue is some type of metal."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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