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Church collection money stolen in armed robbery - caught on tape

December 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Police are searching for three suspects caught on tape during an armed robbery of two church employees who were transporting the church's collection money in Van Nuys.

Investigators say around 3:30 p.m. Monday, two employees of the Church On The Way had put a bag full money, mainly from tithing and other offerings, into a car. Before they could leave to take the money to a bank, the video shows what police say is a gray four-door Nissan with a dealer paper plate on the rear entering the parking lot and blocking the employees from leaving.

Two masked suspects got out of the car as a third stayed behind the wheel. Police say the bandits demanded the bag of money from the employees and the suspects hit one of workers on the head before speeding off with the money.

Detectives say the suspects got in and out so fast it appears they had staked out the church for sometime before executing their plan.

"Within 12 seconds, so it was obviously planned," said Los Angeles Police Lt. Steve Harer. "They knew when the victims were going to take this money to the bank."

Church officials said they do not want to talk Eyewitness News before first discussing what happened to their congregation at the next Sunday worship service.

Police have this advice for churches and businesses that transport their own money to banks.

"Don't have a routine, be discreet with how you are carrying the money, don't do it in money bags, bank bags, that's obviously telegraphing what you're doing," said Harer.

Harer said a "significant amount" of money was taken in the robbery, although he did not specify an amount. He also said these situations are rare, though not uncommon.

"We're not aware of anywhere else that this is occurring, not like it's a pattern," he said. "But I'm sure there's a special place in hell for robbers who want to steal people's church money."

The suspects were described as males between the ages of 25 to 30 years old, standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighing around 130 pounds. They were last seen wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the LAPD at 1-877-LAPD-24-7.


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