TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Investigators in Florida say a group of Romanian nationals stole $740,000 from hundreds of churches in the United States.
Authorities with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested four people Wednesday and are searching for two others. They say the group was based in Orlando but traveled around Florida and other states stealing donation checks from church mailboxes.
“Churches depend on donations from generous members of the community to operate and serve those in need. It is despicable that this crime ring would exploit the selfless acts of kindness displayed through these donations for selfish greed,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Authorities dubbed the investigation “Operation Though Shalt Not Steal.”
Investigators say at least 636 churches were victims, including 355 in Florida.
Investigators said the group used the money to buy cars, food, and clothes and made high-value wire transfers to Romania.