PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) – Police in Palo Alto are searching for a man who stole thousands of dollars from a church collection basket following a service last Sunday.

It was a packed house at Cornerstone Community Church, not a spare seat in the pews. The topic of the September 11th sermon was the book of Genesis.

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“How God is good, all the time,” Pastor Joseph Park told KPIX 5.

In the middle of Park’s sermon, he noticed someone he’d never seen before.

“There was a gentleman who lingered, stayed after the service and we thought he was a newcomer,” Park recalled.

After the service, the pastor spoke with the man briefly. When he began chatting with another family, that’s when he noticed the collection basket was missing from underneath the pulpit.

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“It was a split second,” he said.

Pastor Park says the collection on Sunday was nearly $10,000, money to be used to feed the homeless and help single moms.

“It does occur to us that maybe God allowed this to happen because there was need in his life,” Park said.

The collection wasn’t just cash, but checks as well, which could lead Palo Alto detectives to a suspect.

“If they use it somewhere, and there’s video of them cashing the checks. That helps sometimes,” said Agent Marco Estrada of Palo Alto Police.

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Anyone with information is asked to contact the Palo Alto Police Department.