Megachurch Thieves: Joel Osteen's Church Out $600K

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You have to be pretty desperate to steal money from a church, but that's exactly what happened at Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston over the weekend.

Around $600,000 in checks and cash was stolen from a safe at the Lakewood location sometime between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Police spokesman, Kese Smith, said $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks were stolen from the safe.

A church employee and an off-duty sheriff's deputy who provides security at the facility notified police of the robbery Sunday.

"We were heartbroken to learn today that funds were stolen from the church over the weekend," Lakewood officials said in a letter to members. They told the church's congregation that the stolen money was limited to funds received during church services on Saturday and Sunday.

"We are working with the police to fully investigate the incident," the statement reads. "The funds were fully insured, and we are working with our insurance company to restore the stolen funds to the church."

According to the statement, there was no electronic data breach and individuals who put their offerings in a drop box, gave online or made a bookstore purchase were not affected.

"If you made a contribution during these weekend services, we would encourage you to pay close attention to your accounts over the next several days and weeks and report any suspicious activity to your financial institution or credit card company immediately." said the statement.

Church rep Donald Iloff, Jr. told the Houston Chronicle that "Lakewood Church is working in conjunction with the Houston Police Department to investigate this matter."

"We do not want to compromise the investigation by commenting at this time,” he said.

Pastor Joel and his wife, Victoria Osteen, are well-known proponents of a modern version of the prosperity gospel — a theology that believes God blesses people with material success. Their message reaches a congregation of 40,000 in attendance each week and reaches millions more worldwide through television and online.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Pam Wright

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