Pastor Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria. AP photo
HOUSTON (AP) - Authorities are investigating after
$600,000 in checks and cash was stolen from a safe at Pastor Joel
Osteen's Houston megachurch, which has one of the largest congregations
in the country.
Police spokesman Kese Smith said Tuesday $200,000
in cash and $400,000 in checks were stolen from a safe sometime between
2:30 p.m. Sunday and 8:30 a.m. Monday.
The theft was reported Monday morning by a church
employee and an off-duty sheriff's deputy who provides security at the
No arrests have been made, Smith said.
Church officials declined to comment Tuesday.
In a statement issued Monday, Lakewood Church said
the money and checks taken, as well as some envelopes with written
credit card information, were limited to funds given during this past
weekend's Saturday and Sunday services.
"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."
The church encouraged people who made contributions
this past weekend to keep track of their accounts and report any
But church officials noted there was no electronic
data breach and that individuals who put their offerings in a drop box,
gave online or made a bookstore purchase were not affected.
More than 40,000 people attend weekly services led by Osteen, whose televised sermons reach nearly 100 countries.
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