Thieves stole figurines including Joseph, the Virgin Mary, Baby Jesus, kings, shepherds and farm animals from the set, which has occupied the corner of Canada Lane and Woodside Road during the holidays for the past several years, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Rebecca Rosenblatt.
The figurines, each around 20 to 30 inches tall, are worth a total of about $1,600. However, Ms. Rosenblatt noted that they also have great sentimental and nostalgic value for community members, some of whom banded together years ago to purchase them.
The theft was not made public earlier because the owners were hoping the thieves would have a change of heart and return them, she said.
The theft has triggered an outpouring of support from the community, including offers of money to help replace the figurines.
Anyone with information about the theft or the whereabouts of the figurines is asked to call sheriff's Detective Bridget Hensley at (650) 363-4051 or the anonymous tip line at (800) 457-2700.