The owner of an East Texas Christmas decoration store says thieves have long targeted one item on her shelves more than any other -- Baby Jesus.

"It's very startling," said Angie Bullington, who owns the Christmas Store, located in Tyler.

Open since 1978, Bullington said thieves started going after Baby Jesus long before she took over as owner of the Christmas Store in 2013.

"That's the most stolen item we've had," she said. "Always has been."

Bullington said she cannot determine a motive. While shoplifters have taken Jesus figurines of all sizes, she said those from nativity scenes and ornaments are most common.

"It's just crazy that people could steal Baby Jesus," Bullington said. "And how could you not feel guilty about that?"

Outside Green Acres Baptist church, you'll find a life-sized nativity scene. In 2015, Jesus went missing.

A new doll has since replaced him, along with a note reading: "Please leave this Jesus for everybody to enjoy. Merry Christmas."

Baby Jesus in the nativity scene outside Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler (KYTX)
Baby Jesus in the nativity scene outside Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler (KYTX)

"How do you steal baby Jesus from outside a church?" asked Bullington. "It's bad enough inside a store but from a church?"

Though the 'how' and 'why' remain unclear. Bullington knows one thing for sure: When thieves take Baby Jesus from a nativity scene at the Christmas Store, it often leaves her unable to sell the entire set.

"I don't think it's a trend because it's been happening for years," said Bullington, "and that's something else that's pretty startling."

The Christmas Store, located at 102 E 8th Street in Tyler (KYTX)
The Christmas Store, located at 102 E 8th Street in Tyler (KYTX)