It’s been said hiring good help is difficult these days, but when Life.Church in South Oklahoma City suspected a hired security guard was stealing from the offering, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Marking bills, notating large amounts on the outside of the envelopes, and implementing the use of GPS tracking devices and cameras led church leaders to their culprit … a hired security guard!
According to News OK
A security officer at a south Oklahoma City church has been charged with attempted grand larceny after the ministry’s leaders set up a sting that prosecutors say caught him stealing from the church collection plate.
James Lee Smith, 52, allegedly illegally removed three envelopes of cash from Life.Church South Oklahoma City while he was employed to provide security at the church.
Smith was an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s reserve deputy at the time of the incident. Smith was fired once the investigation was revealed.
Church staff members conducted an investigation. They placed four donation envelopes into a collection plate after the 10:30 a.m. service on Dec. 17. The four envelopes each contained cash in small bills plus small GPS tracking devices.
Three of the four envelopes were missing after Smith supervised the sorting of the envelopes. According to the affidavit,
“Although the three missing envelopes were each labeled with different dollar amounts indicating $1,000, $1,250 and $500, they “in fact, contained $300 in bait money that had been placed in the offering proceeds by church personnel in an attempt to identify who was stealing cash contributions from the church.”
“Smith was observed on a hidden surveillance camera taking the collection envelopes that typically contain cash donated to the church and placing them into his pants pocket.”
According to the report, the envelopes were never found, but the tracking devices were found inside a trash container behind the church. Aside from losing his credibility, reputation and job, his actions have made everyone inside the church a little less trusting.