CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Authorities in Tennessee are looking for a group of women who robbed a 78-year-old woman while she prayed in church.
Clarksville police said the theft of property happened Feb. 9 around 6 p.m. local time inside the sanctuary at Hilldale Baptist Church.
Officers said the elderly woman was praying when two women approached her, asking for prayers as well. While they were praying, a second woman went into the victim’s purse and stole credit cards, gift cards and cash. Investigators said the thieves then tried to use the credit cards at Sam’s Club and Kroger shortly after.
Surveillance video captured the incident and the suspected thieves at the Sam's Club.
Senior Pastor Larry Robertson told FOX Television Stations that the women came to church 50 minutes before evening service, which he thought was a little odd. The women told him that there were visiting from another church. He then pointed them to the sanctuary where a pre-service prayer meeting was going to start in about 20 minutes.
The 78-year-old victim, a longtime church member, also arrived early and took her seat in the sanctuary.
"The taller girl with red dreadlocks (she called herself Jade) voiced the prayer while the other girl (who called herself Kesha) took the lady’s wallet from her purse and removed cash and credit/gift cards," Robertson told FOX Television Stations. "When ‘Kesha’ had finished, ‘Jade’ finished the prayer. They excused themselves and exited the building."
The victim then noticed her credit cards and cash were gone and alerted Robertson.
"I was sickened … and angry, to be honest," he continued.
Police released images of the women they suspect stole from an elderly woman as she prayed in church. (Clarksville Police)
Police also said there was a group of four women in total inside the church with the victim. Three of them were seen on security cameras at a Sam's Club where the victim's credit card was used shortly after the theft.
Robertson said the victim is doing well but feels "violated." The pastor also said he hopes the women will be prosecuted and doesn't believe that contradicts his faith.
"According to the law of the land, by which our society keeps order, justice would be prosecution to the fullest extent of the law," he said. "But the law of love, by which churches and Christians are mandated to operate, calls us to pray that they see how wrong they were—not because they got caught but because they did a terrible thing, ultimately against God—turn away from their sins, and find Christ Jesus to be their all in all."
This story was reported from Los Angeles.