Police: Woman fuels drug habit while church members pray

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by Brooke Hasch

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 7:02 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 6:49 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A woman who admitted to stealing from local church members said she did it for the drugs.
 
Police issued a warrant for the arrest of New Albany resident, Andrea Washburn, 39. She is set to face four counts of theft and four counts of attempted theft.

Washburn said she ‘pick-pocketed’ other people at the Christ Gospel Church in Jeffersonville.

"It's not unusual for a church to be victimized by crime," Jeremy Mull, the Clark County prosecutor, said.
 
Mull said he there is no account of the crime happened during a worship service.
 
"We had one or two people make a comment to the deacons, they felt they'd been missing some money. Like, they came with $60 and now they have $20, or none," Stephen Manecke, the church’s CFO, said.
 
After the reports, the church deacons were put on high alert and began watching the congregation more carefully. That's when they said they discovered Washburn as the alleged culprit behind the thefts.
 
"When members of the church would go forward to pray, she would take that opportunity to look down at any purses or valuable items anyone left in the seating area and go through and steal items of value from them," Mull said.
 
Often times, Washburn took cash and credit cards, police said.  She is reported to have taken $400 in cash to fuel her drug habit and, on occasion, would steal prescription drugs from purses.
 
"When the members of the church were praying to God, she was preying on them," Mull said.
 
Further investigation found that Washburn was on probation for drug possession charges in Clark County. She's also accused of stealing from her own mother, a church member.
 
"That's what makes it even more unfortunate. We try to respect her dignity and privacy as well. Because that's not her problem, but it still hurts as you can imagine, being family," Manecke said.
 

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