MONTGOMERY, Alabama — This Grinch really did steal Christmas.
Cops in Montgomery, Alabama are on the lookout for a man who stole a Salvation Army Christmas donation kettle and has been using it to collect contributions for himself.
Lt. Bryan Farrington of the Salvation Army says the man has been seen in downtown Montgomery posing as an employee trying to collect money from unwitting donors.
When the suspect was confronted, he fled on foot. Police said the suspect was last seen on Thursday.
Farrington is now asking the community to be sure that when you donate, you are dropping your cash in the right kettle.
“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 told WFSA-TV.
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.
The Salvation Army says if you see someone on a street corner posing as a Salvation Army volunteer to report it to police immediately.