Mary swiped from Nativity scene at Washington state Capitol grounds

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If you’ve driven past the state Capitol grounds in Olympia over the last few days, you may have noticed a glaring vacancy in the Nativity scene visible from Capitol Way South: Mary is missing.

The figure of Jesus’ mother was in position when the Wesselius family left for vacation last Thursday, but someone had stolen the figure by the time they returned Monday.

“Usually it’s the baby Jesus that gets taken” from the three-figure scene, display sponsor Nic Wesselius told The Olympian. But someone swiping the bulkier, 3-foot-tall Mary? That’s a first.

“I just think it’s crazy that people can’t respect everyone’s First Amendment freedom of speech. … I think that everybody should be able to respect each others’ beliefs and not have to feel the need to take other people’s property,” Wesselius said.

Nic Wesselius took over the scene’s sponsorship this year, after he turned 18 years old. His dad, Ron Wesselius, sponsored the scene for the previous 10 years or so.

The father and son were debating Tuesday whether to bring the Mary figure on display at their house to the Capitol. But their 10-day permit for the display soon expires, and they’ll be taking it down Friday, in any case.

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Ron Wesselius, a real-estate agent who lives in Tumwater, said the last couple of years have been “really nice and quiet,” with no figures stolen from the scene. In years past, though, he said baby Jesus disappeared so often that they ultimately went through all the baby Jesus figures the family had, then through replacements sent by the manufacturer.

Now they buy dolls from Goodwill, and Nic Wesselius said they tie the doll down.

The family has reported the theft to the state Department of Enterprise Services and Washington State Patrol. State Patrol Sgt. Darren said no police report had been filed as of midday Tuesday, but that charges could be pursued if Mary is found.

“I really appreciate the people at the Capitol,” Wesselius said. “I let them know what happened. And I don’t expect them to sit and watch over it, because they should not have to.”

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