FORT WORTH — The Rev. Rob Hamby took the pulpit at Fort Worth Presbyterian Church on Sunday and delivered a sermon encouraging the congregation to go out and show mercy to others.
And as he did so, someone sneaked into a back room at the church and snatched his briefcase, which he said contained a laptop, credit cards, keys and receipts for business expenses. In all, he estimates he’s out more than $5,000.
Even before the 10 a.m. service was over, charges started showing up on his credit card — $200 for shoes at Foot Locker, $676 for a diamond from a department store, a $333 charge at Lowe’s and even some gas. Fort Worth police are investigating the incident, but were not available for comment Sunday.
Hamby, a campus minister at Texas Christian University, was filling in for the church’s pastor.
He and others at the church were shocked by the theft, surprised that someone would walk into a church during a service and loot its office.
“To know that people are bold enough to go to the pastor’s study and take something and thirty minutes later they’re spending the pastor’s money — you just don’t think that would ever happen at a church,” Hamby said.
While he’s troubled by the financial loss, Hamby said it should be a reminder to churchgoers to be vigilant to protect their belongings.
Steve Fults, an elder at the church and the ministry coordinator, said he’s afraid it might not be an isolated incident, and plans to warn other churches and distribute surveillance photos if they’re available.
“If somebody got away with something, they’re going to attempt it again,” Fults said. “It’s like a bank robber who gets away and robs another bank.”
Fults said if whoever took the money was in need, the church would have gladly helped them out.
“It reminds us that we live in a world that’s broken,” he said.