Who was the thief here?

I think he found two nickels on the carpet.

A plumber doing bathroom repairs discovered large sums of money and checks hidden in the walls. He did the right thing and reported it; it’s thought to have been stolen cash concealed in the wall until the as-yet-unidentified thief could recover it. It was more than half a million dollars. The victim: Joel Osteen’s church.

“Recently, while repair work was being done at Lakewood Church, an undisclosed amount of cash and checks were found,” the church representative said. “Lakewood immediately notified the Houston Police Department and is assisting them with their investigation. Lakewood has no further comment at this time.”

In 2014, Houston police said $200,000 in cash and $400,000 worth of checks were stolen from a safe at the church. At the time, the church said the stolen money represented funds that were contributed during one weekend of services.

Oh, did I say Joel Osteen was the victim of the theft? His church rakes in $600,000 in a single weekend, and we’re supposed to feel bad that he got ripped off one weekend? I wish the thief the best.

The article says that Osteen offered a $25,000 reward, but so far he hasn’t paid off the plumber. He will, eventually, right? That would be such bad PR if he didn’t. Like locking refugees from a deadly storm out of his church. Or taking over $4 million from a loan program intended for small businesses.

Tax him more.


  1. indianajones says

    Was there a bug out bag? With a bunch of different passports with Joels’ photo but different names on them?

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    If you find a pile of cash; well, it’s hard to tell where it came from or how long it’s been there, other than the issue date of each bill. But the checks are very helpful in establishing the date they were written, by whom and who was the intended recipient.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    A plumber found money while breaking through a wall. That sounds familiar.

    How many “1-UPs” does $600,000 get you?

  4. robro says

    This has all the markings of a case for Sherlock Holmes. Seven years ago, someone takes the church’s daily receipts and hides them in the wall. That’s a large number of envelopes of checks and cash so no small task itself. This person opens the wall, stashes the envelopes, and then repairs the wall. To do this, the person was prepared with supplies and tools. No one notices!!?

    I would be skeptical that the money was stolen in the first place except Joel and his church don’t need to hide income from the tax man.

    It boggles my old man’s brain.

  5. Doc Bill says

    Osteen is a con-artist from a family of con artists who “preaches” the Gospel of Wealth, aka Cult of Greed.

    Not surprisingly, thousands of greedy wannabes flock to his “services” every week to put their money into the Cosmic Slot Machine hoping for three golden calves. More than a few greed actors “testify” as to how after paying their 30 pieces they came into an inheritance, or won a scratch-off lottery or had some vague windfall. It’s all good slop to the greedy pigs who wallow in Osteen’s sty, and they are all to willing to fork out their unemployment checks and retirement money. It’s like turtles except fools all the way down. While the fools live in trailer parks, Osteen resides in a $20 million mansion and drives a Lamborghini.

    Yep, $600,000 a week. Tax free.

  6. René says

    If you’re comfortable at tilling, how difficult can it be to have a go at tiling. Okay, okay, I’ll sign off. It’s Friday.

  7. answersingenitals says

    One of the most fundamental laws of nature: “There is a steady flow of wealth from fools to scoundrels”. To fight this law is to oppose science.

  8. davidb54 says

    We need a new term, “Big Religion,” in the spirit of Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Ag, and Big Pharma. Big Religion should apply to the full span from churches to church-bought politicians. Yes, I’m looking at the Supreme Court’s band of churchy misogynists and forced birthers.

  9. unclefrogy says

    what kind of taxes do churches actually pay?
    how surprising that in a house of thieves someone stole things.

  10. chrislawson says


    They may not need to pay taxes, but there are other reasons to hide funds, few of them salutary. One thing is certain: whoever did this must be a church insider.

  11. ajbjasus says

    What – someone stole money from the church and hid it at the church?

    Also, cheques expire after six months over here, and you generally have to pay them into the specified account, so nitnof any use to a thief.

    Finger points at fraud, to me.

  12. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Even for insider fraud, why bother stashing the checks?
    Looks to me like a panic “oh crap, there’s a paper that proves child sex abuse in the ‘take’ today: HIDE IT ALL, NOW”

  13. says

    When Charles Keating “gave” US$20 million (stolen from depositors of savings and loans) to mother teresa’s depraved cult of personality, the catholics told the victims they “should be grateful” about not getting their money back.

    Someone should tell osteen-tatious to be grateful.

  14. Kagehi says

    See, this, like when car driving, and having a dash cam, is why sensible people should always document their work. Would be funnier than hell if the plumber had done so, as he found it, and there was no “safe”. That said.. its still stupid, because what idiot makes a ‘safe’ which a plumber can rip the back open on, to fix pipes? Its not even plausible. Though.. doesn’t surprise me, given that the quality of “police” we get, especially when investigating something involving rich people, is Commissioner Gordon from the 1960s version of Batman – i.e., incompetent boob, who can’t figure out anything without a cape crusader to show up to “help them”.

    Or, is that being totally unfair (its not.. the local cops decided that someone who was rich was too Mexican a while back, and told him to look at his “neighbors” for the stolen $10,000 statue someone took from his back yard, so… add “white” to that criteria)?

  15. dorght says

    Seems only appropriate that the police should take the cash under civil forfeiture. That amount of cash it would only take one whiff from a drug dog (or a half-assed prompting).

  16. answersingenitals says

    A key question here is whether Osteen’s church was insured against such a loss and did they receive an insurance payment. If so, then the money found belongs to the insurance company. The tax issue here is not just that the church pays no state or local, e. g., property, taxes or federal taxes on their gross income, but that those contributions from church members is tax deductible. So, if someone donates $10,000 and are in a 30% bracket (state and federal) they save $3,000 off their taxes. Which means every one else in the state and country pay an extra $3,000 which effectively goes to that church since taxes are in effect a zero sum game (or, let’s face it, a negative sum game).

  17. Chakat Firepaw says

    @robro #5

    This person opens the wall, stashes the envelopes, and then repairs the wall. To do this, the person was prepared with supplies and tools. No one notices!!?

    I can see a more easily concealed sequence of events:

    Someone is in the church doing maintenance work, notices a hollow behind a wall they can rig a hidden access to, (say by removing some molding, cutting a hole, then replacing the molding in a way it can be removed).

    They set it up, then wait some months to separate their doing work with the theft.

    Grab the cash, quickly open the access, stuff it in and close it back up.

    Wait for the heat to die down and for a chance to get in and open up the wall to come along. This could be overt, (doing more work where they ‘accidentally’ damage the wall), or semi-covert, (look at all the damage these vandals did when they broke in!).

    I would be skeptical that the money was stolen in the first place except Joel and his church don’t need to hide income from the tax man.

    What’s the first thing any church or charity does when someone steals from them? They use it to fundraise! Stash the cash, get the local punters to pony up some of it, (at least the $400k in cheques, that’s just a matter of stopping payment and issuing a new one), and outsiders ‘touched by the tragic story’ the rest . It’s quite possible the story of the theft netted the church more than was take from the safe.

    Meanwhile, the pastor gets himself a $200k rainy day fund that didn’t cost the church a penny in the end.