Houston's Lakewood Church burglarized of $600K

Thieves took $200K in cash and $400K in checks from safe

By Phil Archer - Reporter , Courtney Zavala , Cody Schultz - News Producer

HOUSTON - Lakewood Church is Houston's megachurch. It claims the largest congregation in the world. And that may have made it a tempting target for whoever cracked their safe and got away with all the money inside of it.

A church employee and an off-duty sheriff's deputy working security discovered the money was missing Monday morning. Houston police said about $200,000 in cash had been taken, along with $400,000 worth of checks.

It is reported that the thief got into the safe between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Pastor Joel Osteen wasn't available for comment. However, the church issued a statement to congregants Monday night.

"We were heartbroken to learn today that funds were stolen from the church over the weekend. 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."

The statement told members to monitor their accounts in the upcoming weeks and report any suspicious activity to their credit card company.

Of course, the theft isn't sitting well with Lakewood members and supporters.

"That's a very bad person," one woman said. "Whatever religion you are, you're still a bad person when you're taking away from someone who does believe."

Neither the church or police will confirm that the money stolen was collected during services.

A police spokesman said it's not clear if any of it was caught on security video. It's also not clear who had access to the safe or how the thieves may have forced their way into the building to get to it.

Lakewood Church is a non-denominational church ministered by Joel and Victoria Osteen. The church claims an average weekly attendance of more than 43,000 worshipers.

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