gps baby jesus, gps tracks baby jesus

GPS Guards Baby Jesus, as Houses of Worship Go High-Tech

December 12, 2008 08:58 AM
by Isabel Cowles
This year, many churches and synagogues are turning to GPS and cameras to secure their holiday decorations from theft.

New Technology Guards Ancient Symbols

Criminals might want to think twice before stealing from that church nativity scene or picking up that shiny menorah this holiday season.

Last year, a baby Jesus disappeared from a nativity scene on the lawn of the Wellington, Florida, community center. But it didn’t take long for authorities to track the figurine, which was implanted with a GPS chip.

This year, a New York-based security firm is offering 200 religious institutions a month’s worth of free camera and GPS systems, the Associated Press reports. Approximately 70 churches and synagogues have signed up thus far.

BrickHouse Security CEO Todd Morris said the company came up with the plan after several churches inquired about renting GPS security systems for a month, instead of signing up for a yearlong plan.

“People are very security-conscious, and this is simply a precaution,” said a Philadelphia rabbi who plans to use both GPS and a camera to protect his synagogue’s decorative menorahs. “It’s sad ... but it’s the reality we’re faced with.”

Background: GPS tracks people for security and convenience

In addition to tracking objects, GPS can also be used to track people, making life more secure and convenient for many.

For example, GPS can be used to track criminals, helping authorities protect potential victims. In August 2008, Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the Cindy Bischof Law, allowing judges to place GPS devices on individuals who violate protection orders.

While GPS makes it impossible for criminals to hide, new cell phone technologies have also paved the way for near-total transparency where regular citizens are concerned. Many modern cell phones come equipped with GPS devices, making it possible for friends and family to pinpoint each other’s location at any given moment.

The ability to track individuals at any time raises new concerns. Kevin Bankston, staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco told The New York Times in 2007, “There are massive changes going on in society … We seem to be getting into a period where people are closely watching each other.” Bankston added, “There are privacy risks we haven’t begun to grapple with.”

Reference: Understanding GPS

For more information on Global Positioning System technology and how to get equipped, visit findingDulcinea’s Web Guide to GPS.

Related Topic: The lighter side of GPS

The social uses for GPS have gone beyond tracking friends and family: some people are now using the technology for interactive entertainment. is an online game that allows users across the world to participate in scavenger hunts using GPS devices. Participants then share their findings with the online community. 

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines