Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and checks along with parishioners’ credit card information were stolen from Pastor Joel Osteen’s church over the weekend, leaving the house of worship “heartbroken” over the missing funds.
In a statement put out by Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, megachurch officials said that they are working with authorities to fully investigate the crime, noting that the theft was limited to tithes given to the church over the weekend.
“We were heartbroken to learn today that funds were stolen from the church over the weekend,” the church said. “This includes cash, checks and envelopes containing written credit card information, and it is limited only to those funds contributed in the church services on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9, 2014.”
Houston Police Department spokesman Victor Senties told the Houston Chronicle that $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks were taken from the church safe sometime between Sunday and Monday. It was a Lakewood employee who initially discovered the theft.
Lakewood recommended that those who contributed over the weekend watch their bank accounts for any suspicious activity in the coming days, though church leaders also noted that the crime did not involve an electronic data breach and that information outside from what was stored in the church safe wasn’t compromised.
“The integrity of our congregants’ information is of utmost importance to us,” the church added.
Police are investigating surveillance footage for leads. It is currently unclear how the safe was accessed.
As for the missing money, Lakewood said that the stolen funds were insured and will be restored.