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Thief steals Salvation Army donation kettle, poses as volunteer to collect money

Updated: Dec. 18, 2020 at 8:31 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery Police Department is on the lookout for a real life Grinch after the Salvation Army reported that one of their red donation kettle’s has been stolen and is now being used for personal gain.

Lt. Bryan Farrington with the Salvation Army said they are not sure how, but someone was able to steal one of their kettles and stands and was last seen in downtown Montgomery posing as an employee trying to collect money for personal use.

Farrington said when the suspect was confronted, he fled the area on foot.

Police said the subject was last seen on Thursday, and that an arrest has not been made.

Farrington is now asking the community to be sure that when you donate, you are dropping your cash in the right kettle.

“I’m not sure if the plan was taking it different places and using that as a way to get money from the community, but we felt like it was our responsibility to let the community know that if you see somebody out there that doesn’t have on a red apron, that’s not standing in front of one of the stores - the Walmart’s, the Winn-Dixie’s, the Belks, the Hobby Lobby’s, that doesn’t have a stand with a sign on it and the kettle will be chained to it. That’s not us,” Farrington said.

Every year, the Salvation Army relies on the money they collect from their Red Kettle Campaign to support the community.

“The funds that we raise during this time make up about a third of our operating income, so it’s huge,” Farrington said.

This year, they started collecting donations even earlier because they knew it would be challenging with the pandemic.

But with fewer volunteers this year, Farrington said so far they have still fallen short on their usual donation goal of $250,000.

“There’s a real gap this year,” Farrington said.

And because every penny counts, the Salvation Army is asking the community to be sure you are donating to the right cause.

“We are just trying to make do the best we can for this season so that in the upcoming year there is not a shortfall in our service to community,” Farrington said.

The Salvation Army says if you see someone on a street corner posing as a Salvation Army volunteer to report it to police immediately.

For more information on how to donate to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, click here.

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