Money Found by Plumber at Joel Osteen’s Church Is Tied to 2014 Burglary

Seven years ago, Lakewood Church, a large Houston church led by renowned evangelist Joel Austin, announced that $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks had been stolen from the church vault.

Last month, the money was probably found by a plumber repairing a toilet in a church bathroom, not by detectives or church workers.

The plumber revealed the results when he called a radio show in Houston on Thursday.

“I removed the tiles because there was an empty toilet on the wall,” he said during the morning broadcast on 100.3 FM. “When I was about to remove the toilet, I removed some insulation and about 500 envelopes fell off the wall.

What’s the reaction? “Oh cool.”

The plumber said he contacted the maintenance manager and then handed the envelope to the church. Houston police confirmed Friday that the money appeared to be linked to a 2014 heist.

A statement on Twitter said police had detailed a property report found in the church on the 10th. Renovation project.

According to police, a robbery and theft investigation has been answered and found on the Lakewood property, so an undisclosed amount has been cataloged, documented, and placed under church control.

“Evidence from the policing gathered indicates that this November incident is linked to a reported theft of an undisclosed sum of money at the church on March 9, 2014,” police said. He added that an investigation was ongoing.

The Lakewood Church issued a statement confirming the find.

“Undetected cash and checks were recently discovered during renovations at Lakewood Church,” the church said. “Lakewood immediately alerted the Houston police to help them investigate. For now, there are no comments for Lakewood.

Mr Austin is one of the most well-known evangelicals in the country, and his church, which serves at the former Compaq Center, which was once home to the Houston Rockets, is home to about 16,000 people. Prior to the pandemic, a church spokesperson said the church attracted an average of about 42,000 people to serve each week.

The 2014 church dome theft was uncovered by church officials, a Houston police spokesman told the Houston Chronicle earlier that year.

“The funds are fully insured and we are working with insurance companies to return the stolen funds to the church,” said a statement from Lakewood Church at the time. The Chronicles said the Houston Church and Criminal Stop provided $25,000 for leads leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the theft.

The plumber, who introduced himself as Justin, announced he had found the money when he called Morning Pen with George Moe and Eric on Thursday.


According to host George Lindsay, the host asked callers to tell stories about valuables found and called about a missing wedding ring and $100 note when he heard from the plumber. I’m wearing it.

“This is without a doubt the most unique and extraordinary phone call in a radio career of over 25 years,” Lindsay said in an interview on Friday. He said the show turned to advertising to make sure callers weren’t misbehaving and to let the plumbers broadcast their stories.

“I wish I had videos of all of our faces while he was talking. Are you kidding me?” Lindsay said the 2014 heist was on the Houston Big News. I added that to it.

During the conversation, the plumber noticed that he had been offered a $25,000 reward and laughed, “I need compensation.” He says he never thought to put envelope in his pocket.

“I’m an honest person,” he said.

Houston Crime chief executive Rania Mancarias said the $20,000 prize was awarded by the Lakewood Church.

He said the organization still has a $5,000 reward for the case, but that the money will only be used for information that helps investigators identify, prosecute and arrest suspects. to the right.

He said the person who found the money was not entitled to compensation unless the discovery led police to the suspect.

Lindsay said she believed the plumbers were unhappy because they had not heard from the church or police since the hideout was discovered on November 10.

“Nothing to thank,” Lindsay said. “No one said a word to this man. He solved cases in books for seven years.