(CNN) — Residents in Fort Collins are shaking their heads in disbelief after a holiday Grinch stole a kettle full of cash from the Salvation Army.
The head of the Salvation Army’s Fort Collins Corps says the thief was apparently one of the bell ringers.
“The individual was supposed to return the kettle,” Capt. Isaias Braga said, “but he just fled with it. He just disappeared.”
Braga said the bell ringer was hired from a staffing agency to ring the bell outside the King Soopers at S. Timberline Road and E. Drake Street.
Braga said the bell ringer disappeared Friday night, a few moments after he arrived at the supermarket to pick up the full kettle.
“I went to the customer service desk and when I came back out, he was gone,” Braga said.
The Captain estimates the thief got away with about $400.
“I can’t believe it,” said Katie Steneroden, after placing some cash in a kettle outside the same grocery store Wednesday afternoon.
When asked if the theft will make her reconsider future donations, “Steneroden replied, “Maybe.”
She said most bell ringers work hard.
“I always feel for them,” she said, “because they’re doing a good service, and they’re collecting money for a good cause at a good time of year.”
Braga said the theft could not have come at a worse time.
“There’s a sense of frustration,” he said. “We’re trying to raise as much as we can to fund services for families in need, and overall donations are down about 30 percent from last year.”
He said they’ll redouble efforts to try to raise about $100,000 before Dec. 24.
The Salvation Army in Fort Collins provides various services to upward of 4,000 people. Among the services provided:
Rent Assistance Utility Assistance Food Christmas Gifts Investigation
Fort Collins Police say they are “diligently investigating” the case and are currently working to confirm the identity of the suspect.
“We will share more information once we have a positive ID,” said FCPS Public Relations Manager Kate Kimble. “Our focus is on conducting a thorough investigation to seek justice for the Salvation Army and the people they serve.”
Good Samaritan Steps Forward
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Salvation Army notified Denver7 that King Soopers reached out and said the supermarket chain would donate the estimated $400 dollars that was in the stolen kettle.
When asked what he would say to the thief, if he had a chance,” Capt. Braga said, “Don’t do that. Work for what is yours, and the Lord will bless you.”
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