SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

Two men went to great lengths to take the joy of Christmas away from one family.  They snatched the family's life-sized Nativity.  The whole thing was caught on camera.

"I guess if somebody came to me and said, 'Hey, we really need this nativity set for another purpose,' I would have thought about it and probably told, 'Yeah, where do you want me to take it?  We'll bring it?'" Loretta Maples said.

The birth of Jesus is what many see as the reason for the season, including Maples.  Every year she sets up an elaborate Nativity in her front year to remind people about the birth of Jesus.  However, a few days ago, the family's security cameras recorded two thieves in her front yard stealing the Christ child.

"You can see he brought a sack full of tools he needs to cut them off the ground, because they were wired, tent-staked, and we used electrical ties, so you couldn't just walk up and pick them up," Maples said.

The cameras captured the same men in the front yard of Maples' home on Walnut Street during the nights of Dec. 18 and Dec. 20.   The Maples believe the two devised a strategy to deliberately cut the wires and electrical ties and take off with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

"We're having a snow storm here.  You can see it's snowing.  Who gets up in the middle of the night and comes and steals something like that?" Maples said.

The scene is precious to the Maples family for many reasons.  Loretta Maples bought it after her brother died to remind her of the peace God sent through his son.  Now she says the missing pieces remind her of the forgiveness Christ has for everyone.  She says that includes those responsible for trying to steal Christmas.

"There's forgiveness for all of us no matter what we do.  That was the whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth," she said.

The Maples family offers $500 for the safe return of the treasured figurines.