Salvation Army red kettle stolen outside Deerbrook Mall

December 6, 2012 4:29:51 PM PST
The search is on for a brazen thief who took off with a Salvation Army red kettle. The crime happened outside a mall in Humble. As investigators try to close in on the suspect, the Salvation Army is working hard to prove the thief can't steal any holiday cheer.

Every holiday season for the past five years, Larry Arnold has been ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

"It's a fun activity," he said. "I like to help people out."

He's only had a positive experience at his post outside Dillard's. But last week, on a day he wasn't working, someone stole the red kettle with about $200 inside.

"Last week, they pulled one of the guys, when I was off, they brought him to one of the stores and they told him one of the kettles was snatched," Arnold recalled.

While stealing red kettles isn't unheard of, the Houston area Salvation Army told us it decided to take the bell ringer working at that time off the job, though the organization would only say it did so out of an abundance of caution.

Salvation Army area direction Major Chris Flanagan said, "There was no foul play. When we do any of that, we talk to the person who was manning the kettle. We try to get the details of how this came about."

Mumble Police Detective David Scott was just assigned this case, so he has no leads, and only a vague description of the suspect.

"The description given was a black male in his 20's with a long goatee, and wearing a black hoodie," Det. Scott said. "The vehicle was described as a tan Chevy Malibu."

So while the Salvation Army waits and the police investigates, for the people who do try to fill the kettles with holiday cheer, this is not a holiday message they wanted to see.

Donor Jo Hanson said, "I try to think maybe they really, really needed it, but it doesn't cut it anymore. No, they're just selfish."

The bell ringer who was working when the theft allegedly happened is no longer working with the Salvation Army, although the organization would only say it is them being extra cautious while the investigation continues.


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