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Hi-Tech Nativity Security 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-higher-satellite-power dept.
To combat vandalism and theft of their holiday displays, many churches and cities are turning to a technological answer. After one of their cows was stolen, St. Marks Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill. installed GPS devices in the figurines of its nativity scene. This year the village of Wellington, Fla. added security cameras to protect their display. From the article: "BrickHouse Security in New York City offered churches and synagogues free GPS and cameras to protect their displays this season. Seventy have signed up so far. About 24 of them are also installing security cameras. In Merrick, N.Y., the Chabad Center for Jewish Life is putting GPS in its 8-foot menorah on display in a park."

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Hi-Tech Nativity Security

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  • So, what's to keep the offenders from disabling the GPS and using it for their own non-denominational service? Why not deploy flying drones to combat the would-be evil doers? What about the effect of CMEs on the GPS unit in Baby Jesus' head?

    • We need more seminars that explain that Surveillance != Security.

      Okay, you've got footage of a dozen people in ski masks trashing your nativity scene and then you use the GPS the next day to track down 12 different locations where they've been scattered in random fields.

      Congrats guys, that think tank sessions sure paid for itself. And so did the electronics.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Well, at least they get them back. Without trackers, that's not nearly as likely when they're hidden in some kid's dorm room or some frat house basement.

        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @08:38PM (#34481868) Homepage Journal
          Ok, I know this is a "get off of my lawn" type moment...but what the hell happened to us in this country??

          When I grew up, you rarely if EVER heard of shit like this going on. Hell, as a family, we'd all get in the car on a cold winter night, like many other families, and go look at the decorations at homes, at churches and yes..even the capitol building (I grew up mostly in the capitol city of my state).

          And yes..there was a nativity scene at the capitol...was common to see across the US and no one had a cow over it.

          But seriously....no one worried about it getting stolen, we all kind of respected someone taking the time to put up some decorations at the very least.

          WTF has our country come to...everything is target for theft or vandalism?

          Hell, growing up...Halloween was about the only holiday you had to worry about that...and it was minor.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @09:09PM (#34482096)

            Here's the answer no one else will tell you: it's the third world mentality seeping into everything. And, no, it's not racial: it's cultural. There's too many cultures here now that don't respect property or education or anything our country (or any modern nation) was built upon. So there you have it in a politically incorrect nutshell. We'll throw money at it, try to legislate around it, but until people, en masse, are willing to stand up and stand together to say"No more of this fucking bullshit" it will continue and get worse.

            OK, time for the mods to hit me with -5 The Truth Hurts

            • by Creosote (33182)

              Let's see... do Virginia rednecks whose great-great-grandaddies undoubtedly fought for the Confederacy count as owning third-world mentalities? Because I'm in a rural service club in central VA that puts up a Nativity scene every year, and granted a couple of years ago when someone stole the baby Jesus doll and replaced it with a bottle of beer it was a Corona beer, but I'd still bet pretty good money that it was a Morris or a Shiflett who did it rather than a Gonzales or a Gomez...

            • by Degro (989442) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:28AM (#34483350)
              I don't know, that's easy to say when you pick out one relatively short timespan as 'what this country was built on'. The dismantling of other cultures seems more accurate. So many the nativity vandals are keeping it old-school and true.
            • by gregrah (1605707)
              Anecdotally speaking, the most destructive and disrespectful groups of people that I've ever met have generally been made up of drunken white teenage men (full disclosure: I am a white male who in the past has in the past also been a drunken teenager). For example - the riots [youtube.com] that occurred in Boston after the Red Sox *won* the world series were nothing but pointless destruction.

              I actually think a lot of these kids might benefit from the experience of living for a while in a third world country.
          • ...and a growing cult. Not saying the creches are being stolen by the Atheists, probably "just kids." But these days, those Atheists DO get their noses out of joint when confronted with public displays that run counter to their own belief systems.

            Not all Atheists are vandalizing extremists, of course. Most of them have moderate beliefs, contribute productively to society, and love America just like you or I.

            • by fredjh (1602699)

              Yeah, I'd say it's mostly kids... kids who have no respect for other people's property. I'm not particularly religious, but I don't trash religion in front of my kids... I'm a live and let live kind of person; but children who have no respect and grow up in households where angry dad continuously trashes religion is a recipe for this kind of behavior.

              And unlike the AC who responded, the fact is that if you are brought up to be a good Christian, you respect other religions; if you are brought up to be a goo

              • by retchdog (1319261)

                As an atheist, I don't understand the idea of good Christians respecting other religions. Why would you "respect" a practice that is sending innocent people to hell? If I were a Christian, my kid would hate the other religions but put on a calculated appearance in order to convert their followers. Sounds ghastly, really.

                Likewise Judaism, where there is still a marginal (admittedly very marginal) debate on whether it is okay to break the Shabbat restrictions in order to save a goy's life.

                Of course I would te

                • by jameskojiro (705701) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @11:31PM (#34482948) Journal

                  [ Why would you "respect" a practice that is sending innocent people to hell? ]

                  As an Atheist why would this even concern you as you don't even believe in Heaven or Hell, or do you? Why would you care if someone somewhere thinks you are going straight to hell unless deep down you were troubled they might have the slightest possibility of being right about you possible eternal salvation?

                  I am Agnostic and I am not bothered at all if my next door neighbor thinks I am going to the fiery pits of Satan's backyard. I could care less what they think of me. I am not a prick either who tries to tell them how wrong they are for believing in a higher power. Instead I try to live my life the best I can and lead by example. If they try to spout any religious nonsense at me I politely tell them I am not interested and don't get into an ass hole screaming match with them. If they object I tell them that in this country we have personal responsibility and if I go to hell then I am responsible for my own soul if they think it exists and if I end up in "hell" then it was my own conscious decision and right protected by the constitution.

                  • I'm not an Atheist or Agnostic (I'm Jewish) but that's pretty much sums up my views on what other people think. My neighbors might think I'm going to hell because I don't accept Jesus as the Messiah. More religious Jews might think I'm not being the "best Jew I can be" because I don't follow all of the laws to the strict letter (as defined by them). In the end, I don't try to force my religious views on others and appreciate it when they don't try to force their religious views on me. I'm more than will

                  • [ Why would you "respect" a practice that is sending innocent people to hell? ]

                    As an Atheist why would this even concern you as you don't even believe in Heaven or Hell, or do you? Why would you care if someone somewhere thinks you are going straight to hell unless deep down you were troubled they might have the slightest possibility of being right about you possible eternal salvation?

                    And why would you take offense if I claimed as fact that you deserve to suffer because of your membership in an ethnic group? You are different from I, therefore it's your fault. I'm just the messenger. String 'em up boys.

                    It's all bigotry, plain and simple.

                    "Because you are [insert ethnic group here], you are subhuman and deserve to suffer" ... is no different from ...

                    "Because you do not believe as I do, you will suffer infinite, endless pain."

                    Just because someone claims to know God's will does not whitewash

                    • by operagost (62405)

                      It's all bigotry, plain and simple.

                      "Because you are [insert ethnic group here], you are subhuman and deserve to suffer" ... is no different from ...

                      "Because you do not believe as I do, you will suffer infinite, endless pain."

                      Anyone who believes that really is wrong; I agree. But that's not what is written.

                      Romans 3:23 - All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

                      Intolerance must not be tolerated.

                      Irony must not be ironic.

                • one thing I never understood about a large religion?

                  the Jehovas Witness believe only 144,000 are going to heaven during the rapture...
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovas_Witness#Life_after_death [wikipedia.org]

                  why then, are they always trying for more members? there are 7.3 million members today, so a less than 2% chance of making it, and yet they keep trying for more members? if I was a jehova's witness I'd DAMN SURE try and get everyone I knew to be something else.... happily!

                • by Asm-Coder (929671)
                  The key word here is tolerance. Everything the GP said could equally be applied to someone who was raised to be a "good person". (and in reality, religion has very little to do with it.) Most religions put a great deal of weight on being/raising your kids to be good people, and as a result there may be a higher average number of "good" people in religious communities.

                  As for your comments about religions condemning followers of other religions to hell, I think you have a skewed understanding of religion.
                  • by operagost (62405)

                    Antecedently, basically all of the protestant friends I have are of the opinion that since God is supposed to be forgiving, anyone who is trying to be a good person will be rewarded.

                    It's written that all our good works are filthy rags. Salvation comes only from the realization that you can't save yourself; you need Jesus's sinless sacrifice to do it. This includes those who existed before Jesus appeared on Earth; God had promised a Messiah to those who trusted in him. For those who haven't heard the sp

                • It's not a matter of respecting other religions; it's a matter of respecting other PEOPLE. As a Baptist, I believe that those who do not accept Jesus as the promised Messiah are not getting into heaven. As a follower of Christ's teachings to unconditionally love, I am *not* to find happiness in that consequence, nor am I to abuse or disparage those who have not accepted what I believe is the only path to salvation. I am expected to make sure they know how to avoid eternal destruction, but once they have t
                • by operagost (62405)

                  As an atheist, I don't understand the idea of good Christians respecting other religions. Why would you "respect" a practice that is sending innocent people to hell?

                  Because trashing someone's menorah isn't exactly going to warm their opinions to you? When Jesus threw a fit in a temple, it was a Jewish temple, not a Roman one. Judgment and reform are practiced on the inside. To the outside, the best one can do is practice positive words and action.

                  Likewise Judaism, where there is still a marginal (admi

            • If the displays that are being vandalized are on church property then I have no problem with them using security cameras and prosecuting the people who vandalize/steal parts from them to the fullest extent of the law. Church property = private property.

              Do I think churches should be taxed like any other business, YES.

              Do i think nativity scenes don't belong on public property, YES.

              Do I think people can put a nativity scene in their own front yard, YES.

              Do I think churches can put a Nativity Scene on their o

              • by anagama (611277)
                I'm an atheist. Never felt the need to vandalize a nativity -- never even think much about nativity scenes unless one is right there in front of me, and then I just critique the quality of the representations (there are lots of lame decorations in the world). Anyway, I doubt atheists are mostly responsible -- a much more likely source of vandalism, antagonism (war and death camps) is other competing religions.
            • by formfeed (703859)
              Atheist Fundamentalists are the counterpart to religious Fundamentalists.They both share the same image of a righteous, vengeful, narrow-minded god, who's about a half a step away from Zeus. - Which sums up both groups views on religion.
              • by anagama (611277)

                Atheist fundamentalists -- all three of them? 1.6% of US citizens describe themselves as atheist ( http://religions.pewforum.org/reports [pewforum.org] ). Most atheists are "live and let live" type people having been at the wrong end of religious discrimination for just about ever. Newer atheists tend to be noisier, but that fades.

                Anyway, let's be generous and say 10% of atheists are "fundamentalists" (probably more like 1% or less). That means with a 300m population, the US, there would be 480,000 militant atheists.

                • by operagost (62405)
                  I guess it's safe to admit that the evangelicals are pretty tolerant, then? After all, they are a significant portion of the population, yet being atheist is still legal.
            • by Creedo (548980)
              Got any data to actually back up such a stupid statement? Or do you think that some angry posts on the internet and the occasional public sign somehow match up with the centuries of religious violence? And what the fuck does atheism have with loving America or not?
            • by Atriqus (826899)
              So in short, it's just kids, but you really wanted to go on a tangent about those evil atheists who have the audacity to point out when math and science are being abused or when non-discriminatory laws are ignored.
            • ...and a growing cult. Not saying the creches are being stolen by the Atheists, probably "just kids." But these days, those Atheists DO get their noses out of joint when confronted with public displays that run counter to their own belief systems.

              Not all Atheists are vandalizing extremists, of course. Most of them have moderate beliefs, contribute productively to society, and love America just like you or I.

              Typically what atheists get out of joint about is the government endorsing a particular religion to the exclusion of all others. The very same christians who say "what's the big deal" about a nativity scene seem to be VERY concerned about displays of Islam, Judaism, Wicca, Satanism, etc.

              Or would you support the local Church of Satan putting up a display in the public places during whatever holiday they wanted to celebrate?

          • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @09:48PM (#34482362) Journal

            Since I wasn't around in the 'old days' (for any reasonable definition of the term, anyway), I can't comment first-hand, but I'd theorise that the changes are based on urbanisation and corporatisation destroying the small community groups that people used to inhabit. If your action has a negative consequence to you personally, or someone you know, that obviously serves as a disincentive - basically, a person only has a direct incentive to be considerate if their actions are likely to affect someone within their 'monkeysphere [wikipedia.org]'. It used to be the case that most of the people you regularly interacted with had some level of connection to you personally, so no problem there. In general, people don't immediately default to 'asshat' as soon as they think nobody they know is watching (although there are exceptions [penny-arcade.com]), but there's a secondary driving factor: this level of disaffection doesn't just appear spontaneously, it's engendered by the fact that those who shape the society we do live in do so in a largely impersonal manner - when the organisations we deal with every day don't care about whether they're screwing us over, it tends to rub off. People are left with no disincentive against bad behaviour, and little incentive for good behaviour. I'm not saying this excuses the people being asshats, of course, but it does provide some reasonable explanation of "what the hell happened to us" (which was quite possible meant to be rhetorical, but anyway...).

            It's not all bad, though. The flipside is that the socially-enforced conformism of small communities is much more conducive to discrimination, repression of the 'out group', and ostracism of those who fail to follow the (often unwritten and/or illogical) 'rules'. Small communities protect the status quo, for better or worse. Whether it's a worthwhile trade off is a matter of personal opinion.

            • by khallow (566160)

              urbanisation and corporatisation

              Or there's governmentization and infantization. I can make up ideologically suitable words too.

              • by tycoex (1832784)

                Ha! You really think the term "urbanization" is made up?

                For Christ's sake, go to school. Maybe read a book even.

              • by MoonBuggy (611105)

                I'm really not intending to push any particular ideology (given the choice I'll take the impersonal city, even with its problems), and (according to Google) I'm using both words correctly. If you think they make the post sound biased, replace them with "greater urban population" and "greater corporate power" - both factual descriptions from the data I can see.

                I put forward a (IMO reasonable) hypothesis on why these changes can lead to a lowered sense of personal responsibility - pick on the logic, if you th

                • by khallow (566160)

                  If you think they make the post sound biased, replace them with "greater urban population" and "greater corporate power"

                  A big pet peeve of mine on Slashdot is that "corporate" is misused here (I rather frequently get into flame wars over this sort of thing). There's no problem stemming from corporation, but rather from people with a lot of money pursuing their interests at the expense of the general welfare. Yet I frequently read anti-corporatist Slashdotters advocate the end of corporations or limitations on the rights of corporations (under the dubious theory that a corporation has at least the rights of citizens and it sh

          • by bware (148533)

            When I grew up, you rarely if EVER heard of shit like this going on.

            Come on. Get real. When I grew up, kids that I knew regularly did this kind of shit. Every xmas. And my dad told me about the shit that his friends did, and the shit that grandpa's friends did. You never heard of a outhouse getting put on the courthouse lawn, or a nativity scene ending up on top of a flagpole? Not us, we were all saints. But if you thinkk this kind of stuff didn't go on 50, 75, and 100 years ago, you are kidding your

          • by bareman (60518)

            No one told you "shit like this" was going on because you were three years old. The Good Old Days when everyone treated everyone else and their property with respect haven't happened yet. Temporal proximity to events tends to lead to exaggeration regarding their severity but it has always been this way. There are wonders and horrors aplenty in this world. Be thankful many of the old horrors have been vanquished, strive to remove those that remain, and enjoy.

          • I don't think this is a new phenomenon. Growing up, we had a nice, big Menorah display that a local synagogue put up. It was found knocked over (while the nearby nativity scene was undisturbed). It was fixed back up and members of the community volunteered to take turns watching it during the night. I remember sitting in the car with my father watching it, making sure that no vandals tried a repeat performance. I can't recall whether or not the vandals were ever caught, but, sadly, this kind of stuff h

          • by natehoy (1608657)

            Shit like this happened back then, too. It's just that a stolen nativity scene in Virginia wouldn't make the news in Kentucky, and one in California wouldn't make the news in New Jersey. We read about this shit because it sells eyeballs and subscriptions, like all bad news, and when we run out of the other shit that's been happening forever (murder, rape, etc) we cover less and less important stories further and further away.

            I'm not saying that stealing a nativity scene is somehow OK, it's just that 30 yea

          • by operagost (62405)
            You forgot to add, "get off my lawn!" Yours are outdated sentiments in our entitlement culture that has been growing for decades.
        • by Drantin (569921)

          I recommend burying baby Jesus directly beneath the food trough.

    • by gd2shoe (747932)

      So, what's to keep the offenders from disabling the GPS and using it for their own non-denominational service?

      I would have said secrecy (security through obscurity), but I guess the cat's out of the bag now...

    • You can't steal the GPS units, because they are just using the GPS units the priests have attached to their own ankles as part of their parole for being a sex offender.

      This "article" is nothing but the church trying to put a positive spin on the problem of kiddy fiddling priests.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      You mean, the cow is out of the barn?

  • I dont know why but i feel this is a better example. http://pics.nase-bohren.de/schweinekrippe.jpg
  • Baby Jesus is just begging to take a ride on a freight train.

  • Unless you have a raging hardon for GPS transmitters.
    Also this is the second /. story today that was on http://www.fark.com/ [fark.com] yesterday. Seams lately there has been lots of day old Fark news here.
  • not the cow?
  • There's something wrong with people when you have to go to such lengths to keep vandals off of a harmless nativity scene.
    • Lack of respect for personal property rights fueled by an out of control class envy fed by popular media?

  • Whatever happened to just putting up a claymore and a sign?
  • No style at all. How about:

    + Autonomous ruler/knuckle coupling
    + Lightening bolts from an angered God
    + A pressure sensitive switch that activates a loudspeaker issuing guilt-riddin admonishments
    + Holy water spray - IT BURNS!
    + Trap door straight to hell

  • "back in the day" we hired local High School football players as 24/7 security for 30 days. cheaper than tech and more effective. baby Jesus likes Beer. bet you didn't know that.
  • Could Be Worse? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IonOtter (629215) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @09:22PM (#34482194) Homepage

    Well, at least they're just stealing the stuff? It's not like you can sell this sort of thing on eBay or Craigslist, so it's probably a prank.

    Things could be a much worse. [wikipedia.org]

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Exactly, and we all know Jesus said to prevent and prosecute pranks and ridicule at any cost. Oh wait, that was Chairman Mao. Well, Jesus, Mao, whatever.. the point stands that you can't just turn the other cheek when this sort of thing happens.

  • Hmmm, GPS tracker plus red and green dye-pack? (And a speaker, "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!")
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @09:36PM (#34482310)
    everyone in the city must be naked scanned and groped several times a day to be safe from evil doers that might try to do something to the nativity scene.
  • If they steal your christmas cow, hunt them down with extreme diligence and furious haste, and give them the other cow that they left behind so that they can get a better price on ebay for the complete set.
  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @10:00PM (#34482414)

    But what prevents would-be vandals from serrupticiously "Laying down" the 3 wise men in the snow, covering them up, and then placing a motion activated dancing santa with a strap on, and two yard gnomes in their place?

    (Bonus, "replace" Joseph with a white lawn jockey. [gotta be PC, afterall.])

    I suppose the camera would be a deturrant, but the enterprising geek could still deploy a portable EMI/EMP generator from the back of the panel van they use to perform the vandalism with. (You can get plans on the internet.)

    Other amusing vandalism ideas (non-inclusive):

    Put obviously fake dynamite bandoliers on all the male nativity characters. (Bonus if you put a burkha robe on Mary)
    Put a fake beard on Mary. (A santa beard is acceptable, but a dark black one is better due to increased visibility)
    Put suet balls in strategic locations so the indemic pidgeon population does the defacement for you
    Make an FSM snowman that totally obstructs the view of the nativity scene from the road.
    Put pink flamingos in the scene, then put brightly colored hawaiian shirts and hoola skirts on everyone.
    Wrap all the nativity figures up in toilet paper like mummies
    Load an electric paint sprayer with water and green food coloring; Spray "We accept cash and credit", "Salvation at LOW LOW PRICES!" on the snow of the church's lawn

    etc, etc.

    Stealing the nativity characters is boring in comparison to the many MANY different ways you could fuck with a church this time of year!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hopefully the same thing that prevents me from shitting on your lawn... decency.

      • by wierd_w (1375923)

        Feel free- The neighbor's dog does it all the time and I dont complain. Makes the grass greener.

        (You, sir, are forgetting that I am a geek and almost never go outside anyway.)

      • If people had decency they wouldn't need the GPS in the first place, this story wouldn't have been written and you wouldn't have made that comment! Does that count as a paradox?

    • by koan (80826)

      You're expecting to much from these thieves as they are most likely so drunk thinking isn't an option.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      ...Which itself is almost more of a meta comment on society than you intend.

      I mean, yes, there are many, many ways one can 'fuck with a church'. Congratulations?

      Let's see: a building that houses an organisation that you might indeed disagree with, but whose members find comfort, solace, and peace in their participation. An organization whose impact is overwhelmingly positive, and you want to 'fuck with it'.

      You kick down little kids' snowmen too?

      Why is the planet so overpopulated with assholes? Is it the

      • by wierd_w (1375923)

        Like with all overtly negative activities, the target must be truly deserving.

        Take for instance a certain sect of baptist churches in the US recently... The ones that like to "petition" at people's funerals?

        Yeah. Not all churches are clean, pure and white like you paint them above. Some might actually be deserving of a little vandalism, (However, it should be pointed out that this was a devil's advocate type joke post, not an edict for vandals to go do those things. EG, it was meant to point out that the se

  • by koan (80826)

    My frat brothers and I would like to know if you could be a little more specific as to where the GPS on the menorah is actually placed.

  • by az1324 (458137) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @03:07AM (#34484040)

    "What do you mean he's not in there? The GPS tracker clearly shows Jesus should be inside the tomb."

  • Just fire up one of these babies [slashdot.org].

    Problem solved.

  • So someone steals a baby Jesus with a hidden GPS tracker in it that gets stolen. After tracking them down what happens, they forgive them?

  • No one bothered to look at the URL...or the creation date of the article. This story is from 2008.

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