Two Salvation Army kettles stolen at Ahwatukee grocery store

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Police are investigating two separate thefts of Salvation Army Red Kettles from the same grocery store.

The thefts happened at the Bashas' at 48th Street and Warner Road in Ahwatukee.

Friday evening's theft did not go as smoothly, though, as the theft that happened Thursday night.

The bell ringer in charge of the kettle Friday afternoon put up quite a fight. The woman spoke with 3TV but did not want us to identify her.

"He tried to grab it out of my hands," she said. "I swung my purse to him, then he pushed me against the wall, and that's what happened, and I ran all the down the way."

She was pushed up against a wall and eventually to the ground during the struggle over the kettle. She was a little shaken up but said she was "more pissed" than anything.

"She didn't want to let that kettle go, and while we applaud that, that's not something that we would encourage our bell ringers to do either," said Major John Brackenbury of the Salvation Army.

The woman has been a bell ringer for three years but says this is the first time something like this has happened.

As for why she put up a fight and chased after him, she said, "Because it just wasn't right, and I wanted to see where he was going, which direction."

She was able to relay that information to police Friday night.

It's not clear how much money was in either of the kettles, but the bell ringer said her kettle was about half-way full on Friday.

"If he really needs help, he needs to go ask for help, not go and steal from somebody that's trying to help the community," she said.

The Salvation Army says not only does this put a downer on the Christmas spirit but it could not come at a worse time. We're told the Salvation Army's donations are down 13 percent from last year, and 60 percent of their funds for the year are raised during the holiday season.

"These monies help individuals with food and with toys. It also goes to help our year-round efforts. I mean, we have kids that go into after-school care, senior facilities," Brackenbury said.

3TV did confirm that Friday's incident was captured on the grocery store's security cameras but that it is corporate policy not to release that footage unless the police request it and release it.