SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Salvation Army kicked off its holiday giving campaign on Monday and within just one day, a thief took advantage of it.
According to Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, officers responded to the Kroger on Mall Blvd. around 8 p.m. for reports of a robbery.
Salvation Army volunteer Leroy Pennamon was ringing his bell outside the front entrance when the incident unfolded.
“I was greeting people coming out the right-hand side door. For a split second I turned my head, a split second, and when I turned back around, I see the chain moving and my kettle was gone,” Pennamon said.
Surveillance video captured the thief lingering by the door, waiting for Pennamon to turn his head just long enough for him to carefully unhook the kettle and make a run for it.
The subject is described as a bearded black male, who is possibly in his early 20s, average to stocky build and about 5-foot 6-inches tall.
He was wearing a camouflage jacket, red pants, white socks and black slides.
Witnesses attempted to chase the subject but lost sight of him in the area near Fox and Weeks Funeral Home.
“It’s such a travesty, that people would stoop so low to do something like that to deny the kids [what] they don’t have,” said Pennamon.
And this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Last December, a kettle was stolen from the same Kroger on Mall Blvd.
“There was a guy in a wheelchair,” Pennamon said, “They took his kettle, nothing he could do.”
The kettle itself is locked, but it’s hooked to a stand that’s not.
The Salvation Army says they work with store security to keep bell ringers and donations safe — and right now, every penny counts.
“Last year we provided over 1600 families food and toys for the family, and we’re looking at that and probably more this year,” said Linda James, a business administrator for the area’s Salvation Army, “And on the heels of Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma, the services that we provided the community, it’s gonna be a tough year.”
“Salvation Army are some good people. They have a heart of gold. They do gods work,” Pennamon said, “That is why I’m not gonna let some perk spoil my hope, and my way of giving back to the community and to the Salvation Army.”
James says they are looking into other ways to keep the kettles safe, but would not disclose exactly what.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the SCMPD tip line at 912-525-3124. Information may also be forwarded to CrimeStoppers at 912-234-2020. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.
Security video courtesy SCMPD: https://youtu.be/Oo1XvjnIQjA.