Bail house heist: Hunt for baby Jesus, Christmas lights expands

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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North Auburn’s celebrated bail house Christmas display is still without its stolen baby Jesus and strands of twinkling lights. But Frank Calabretta, the man behind the popular lights display for the past quarter century, isn’t giving up hope and now has the aid of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. Calabretta, owner of the Atwood Road bail house that bears his name, said a sheriff’s detective visited after an article about the theft appeared in the Auburn Journal and has pledged to follow up on some possible leads. In the meantime, Calabretta said that he’ll continue to hope his offer of no questions asked if the stolen Yuletide items are returned brings them back. Because of the thefts, Calabretta said he remains leery about continuing his display this coming season. He said last week that he’s seriously considering turning the lights off. Over the years, Calabretta has built a vehicle turnaround into the property so visitors can drive up and immerse themselves in the display. Now, he said he’s fearful of damage and the safety of employees. The statue and lights were stolen some time between last May and about three weeks ago from a storage shed on the bail house property. Calabretta said he’s had a flood of calls promising money to keep the lights display going. Even Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has offered to string some energy saving LED lights to help cut back on the display’s power bill – which reached $18,000 last Christmas. “But it’s never been about the money,” Calabretta said. – Gus Thomson