Plumber finds £450k that vanished from church behind toilet – gets to keep £15k

A plumber who found $600,000 (£450,000) behind a loose toilet in a church has been gifted $20,000 (£15,000) as a reward.

Justin Cauley discovered the stacks of cash and checks inside a wall at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, USA on November 10 – seven years after the church reported $600,000 in cash and checks stolen from a safe.

Crime Stoppers of Houston said: “Evidence from the recovered checks suggests that the discovery was connected to the March 2014 theft.”

Back then, the organisation offered a reward of up to $5,000 (£3,800) to anyone with information that led to an arrest, with Lakewood Church adding an extra $20,000 to the reward, NBC news reports.

After years of no substantial information on the case, the church decided to donate the reward money to Crime Stoppers of Houston.

Following news of the recent discovery, the Crime Stopper’s CEO, Rania Mankarious, asked the Crime Stoppers Executive Committee if the organisation could gift $20,000 to the “Good Samaritan” who turned in the money.

She said: "In 2014, Lakewood Church gave us $20,000 to work on this case. In 2016, they chose to gift us those funds for operations.

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"Today, we are gifting that same amount of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season."

Said “Good Samaritan” responsible for the discovery, Justin Cauley, told KPRC: "This money is going to help tremendously."

"Bills are stacking up. I’m trying to make the best of it, and today, the light shined through."

Lakewood Church said: “In 2016, Lakewood Church made a $20,000 charitable donation to Crime Stoppers of Houston to help solve this case and support them for all they do for the community. We are appreciative of the plumber and we hope he pays the gift forward.”

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