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Pastor at Mission Hills church says thousands in donations stole - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Pastor at Mission Hills church says thousands in donations stolen

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The pastor of Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Mission Hills says thousands of dollars' worth of member contributions were stolen earlier this month. On Sunday, he says part of it mysteriously returned.

When Pastor Lawrence Santos realized the money had disappeared, he made an announcement to members of the church.

"It was just unbelievable," said Shirley Heavener, who has gone to the church for 15 years. She says the evil act takes a big toll on their small community.

"You can't get much worse than that, to me. This is God's house," Heavener said.

Santos says the money went missing on November 5th, right after one of their most popular mass services. They receive upwards of $2,000 in one service.

Ministers usually lock the collection away in a safe. That particular day, the money was placed on top of the safe instead.

"Everyone there was unsuspecting," Santos said.

Santos says ministers saw a man taking a trash bag out that day. Their theory is that someone swiped the money into the bag and took off.

"Because nobody would be doing that at that time," Santos said.

This Sunday, Santos opened the collections bag and to his surprise, the stolen checks were there. About $1,000 in cash is still missing. The pastor says he'd like the thief to come forward and apologize.

"There's forgiveness, through church and through God and through us," he added.

Santos says they had cameras inside the church but they weren't working at the time. The church now plans to get some working cameras and move the location of the safe.

KSBY News has reached out to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office on this investigation and has not heard back.

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