12/30/2011 12:13 pm ET

Stolen Baby Jesus Reunited With Rightful Owners After 8 Years (VIDEO)

Eight years after a handmade baby Jesus figurine disappeared from the manger of their front yard nativity scene, a suburban Chicago family was reunited with the central figure of their annual tradition.

The figurine had spent the last eight years in the Hoffman Estates police property room while Chris Moore, the station's property room manager, attempted to locate its rightful owners by putting out articles and alerts on their website and in other media. It had been turned in to police after it was found in a resident's back yard on New Year's Eve in 2003, ABC Chicago reports.

The Urbaniak family, of Inverness, had reportedly given up hope that they would ever find the piece, estimated to be worth thousands of dollars, until family and friends alerted them to an article about the Hoffman Estates police's quest that had been reprinted in a Polish newspaper, according to the Daily Herald. Though the Urbaniaks had alerted some area police to the theft, they never had contacted the Hoffman Estates force.

The figurine, which has remained in pristine condition, was returned to the family manger Thursday, part of a large nativity scene they have put up each year since they moved to the area 12 years ago, the Daily Herald reports.

Next year, the Urbaniaks told the Chicago Sun-Times, they just might tie baby Jesus into place to prevent another theft from occurring.

Nativity scene thefts are common during the holiday season, often as the result of pranks. Though similar thefts have been reportedly in the Chicagoland area recently, as CBS Chicago reports, the Urbaniaks' case was particularly unusual due to the value of the figurine.