Plumber Awarded $20,000 From Crime Stoppers For On-the-Job Discovery

A Houston plumber found cash and checks connected to a 2014 theft in a wall behind a toilet at Lakewood Church

Plumber Awarded $20,000 From Crime Stoppers For On-the-Job Discovery

Justin Cauley (Screenshot from KPRC news report)

Interested in Plumbing?

Get Plumbing articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Plumbing + Get Alerts

Imagine being on a routine service job, suddenly discovering evidence from a 7-year-old crime, and then scoring a $20,000 reward from Crime Stoppers for the find. That’s what happened to one plumber recently.

Justin Cauley was doing repairs at Lakewood Church in Houston on Nov. 10 when he discovered 500 envelopes containing stacks of cash and checks in the wall behind a loose toilet. According to the Houston Police Department, it was tied to a reported theft of $600,000 from a church safe that occurred in March 2014. The investigation of that theft is still open, but Lakewood Church, a megachurch led by Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria, did have the stolen funds fully insured.

At the time of the theft, Crime Stoppers of Houston offered a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information about the crime and Lakewood Church added a supplemental reward of $20,000. After a couple years of no progress on the case, Lakewood Church turned that $20,000 into a charitable donation to Crime Stoppers. Following Cauley’s discovery, Rania Mankarious, CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston, asked the organization’s executive committee if $20,000 could be gifted to Cauley and received approval.

“In 2014, Lakewood Church gave us $20,000 to work on this case. In 2016, they chose to gift us those funds for operations. Today, we are gifting that same (amount) of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season,” Mankarious said in a statement. “Crime Stoppers of Houston is a public safety organization that thrives on the public safety of all communities. We believe that it takes all of us, working together, to keep Houston safe and thriving.”

“This money is going to help tremendously,” Cauley told Houston NBC affiliate KPRC. “Bills are stacking up. I’m trying to make the best of it and today, the light shined through.”

Cauley first shared the story of his on-the-job find on a morning radio show that had invited listeners to call in about valuable items they had randomly found over the years.

“There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile,” Cauley said. “We went to go remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall. I was like, ‘Oh, wow.’”

Sources: The Washington PostKPRC


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.