4 Men Arrested In ‘Operation Thou Shalt Not Steal’ For Allegedly Thieving $740,000 Worth Of Church Donations

(ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ashley Carnahan Contributor
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Four men were arrested as part of “Operation Thou Shalt Not Steal” Wednesday after allegedly thieving $740,000 worth of church donations, according to the police.

Four of the six suspects were taken into custody by agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The two remaining suspects are still on the loose, according to a press release from the police.

The suspects traveled throughout Florida and the U.S., stealing more than 1,500 donation checks from 636 church mailboxes. Agents say the men sometimes hit around 85 churches a day, and the total amount of money stolen was more than $740,000.

The men, all Romanian citizens, used the money to purchase vehicles, food, clothing and send “high-wire transfers to Romania,” according to the press release. (RELATED: Man Arrested For Allegedly Stealing A 400-Pound Slide From A Playground)

Police Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in the press release, “This low-tech yet well-organized effort to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of mailed-in charitable donations —at a time when donations may have been most needed—has been stopped.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody added that the crimes were “despicable.”

“Churches depend on donations from generous members of the community to operate and serve those in need,” the attorney general said.

“It is despicable that this crime ring would exploit the selfless acts of kindness displayed through these donations for selfish greed. Thank you to the law enforcement agencies that worked with my Office of Statewide Prosecution to bring these criminals to justice,” she said.

All of the suspects are charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, racketeering, grand theft, unlawful possession of personal identification information, and money laundering.