Hard times may have driven a Sterling Heights man to steal from his own church, police said.
Kevin John Hampson, 49, is accused of stealing a portion of the Sunday offerings at Crown of Life Evangelical Lutheran Church, on Ryan Road in Warren. New security measures by church personnel led to Hampson’s arrest shortly before noon Sunday.
Warren Detective Lt. Michael Torey said a church elder counted and recorded currency from the offerings received after the 8:30 a.m. service. Following the 11 a.m. service, a church official discovered some money and envelopes were missing.
Officials checked a closed-circuit video system that was installed less than a month ago as a security measure following a similar theft recently. The video showed a man entering an office area.
The church pastor phoned police and reported that a man matching the description was in the parking lot talking to two women.
When officers arrived, the man quickly entered the driver side of a 1998 Ford Ranger pickup truck, police said.
“Upon approaching him, officers saw white church envelopes on the floorboard of the vehicle,” Torey said. “He confessed to taking the money.”
Police recovered seven sealed envelopes later determined to contain a total of $272, and two, $20 bills. Those bills had serial numbers matching the numbers recorded earlier that morning.
Investigators did not immediately know whether Hampson attended Sunday morning services last weekend, but believe he acted alone in the alleged theft.
“He said he’s laid off and needs money,” Torey said.
Hampson was arraigned Monday in 37th District Court on a charge of larceny from a building, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Judge Dawnn Gruenburg set bond at $2,500.
A preliminary hearing to determine whether Hampson should stand trial is scheduled for May 11.
The Macomb Daily unsuccessfully tried to reach pastors at Crown of Life Evangelical Lutheran Church for comment.
The church-collection theft is not a unique case for Warren detectives.
“But it doesn’t happen very often,” Torey added.