Reward Handed Out for Money Found in Houston, Texas Megachurch Wall
Back in 2014, six figures in donations were stolen from Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston only to be found seven years later in a wall in one of the church's bathrooms. The rightful person has now been given the reward for finding the money.
In 2014, Houston police were notified of the theft of approximately $600,000 in cash, check and credit card donation information. Since that time, police have left the investigation open but no clues or new information ever came in. That was until a plumber working in one of Lakewood Church's bathrooms found what is believed to be that stolen money behind a wall while doing repairs November 10 this year. The plumber turned the money in and the police were notified of the find.
A $5,000 reward was initially offered by Crime Stoppers of Houston with an additional $20,000 offered by the church for information leading to the arrest of whoever stole the church donations in 2014. That $20,000 from the church was later changed in 2016 to an outright donation to crime stoppers. After some discussions amongst the Crime Stoppers Executive Committee, it was approved to give the $20,000 donation to the plumber who found, and turned in, the stolen money.
Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious issued this statement:
Crime Stoppers of Houston is a public safety organization that thrives on the public safety of all communities. We believe that it takes all of us, working together, to keep Houston safe and thriving. In 2014, Lakewood Church gave us $20,000 to work on this case. In 2016, they chose to gift us those funds for operations. Today, we are gifting that same about of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season.
This just goes to show that doing the right thing does pay off.
In 2014, Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston reported to Houston police that $600,000 in church donations had been stolen. The money was a combination of cash, checks and credit card information believed to have been taken at services on March 8 and 9 in 2014. The investigation has been ongoing since then with a $25,000 reward still on the table for information leading to the recovery of the money.
Well, it's possible that the stolen money, or at least part of it, has been found. In November of this year, a plumber only referred to as Justin reportedly found a cache of cash and checks behind a bathroom where he was doing some work in the church. A caller to a Houston radio station said that after removing a loose toilet and some tile, some insulation was moved and about 500 envelopes of cash and checks fell out.
The envelopes were turned over to the church who then in turn contacted police about the recovery. It has not been reported how much money was in those envelopes but it is believed that it could be part of those stolen donations.
Recently, while repair work was being done at Lakewood Church, an undisclosed amount of cash and checks were found. Lakewood immediately notified the Houston Police Department and is assisting them with their investigation. Lakewood has no further comment at this time.
I'm not big on televangelists or churches like the one Joel Osteen runs. I don't believe they are preaching to spread the word of God, they are preaching to collect your money. This whole story just raises a bunch of questions for me. Was this money really stolen? Why did someone steal this money then have the time to stash it in a wall and re-tile said wall? Did the thief or thieves forget they stashed the money there? I don't know. Just raises some red flags for me.
You read the full story and decide for yourself.