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Despite Thefts, Red Kettles Locked Up Tight

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Each year, at around this time, the bell ring is constant. A resounding noise, that perhaps reminds us of what the holiday is about.

Major Thomas Riggs of The Salvation Army in Sioux Falls said, "We're very close to what we were at the same time last year, our kettles so far have brought in nearly $50,000."

But with giving, comes temptation. On Friday, The Salvation Army says someone stole one of the Red Kettles it uses to collect donations. The kettle and the stand were taken from a Walmart in West Des Moines during a shift when the kettle wasn't staffed with a bell ringer.

About a week before, the same thing happened. This time it was at a HyVee in South Des Moines.

"It's got a cast iron base so it weighs a good 25 to 30 pounds and then if the kettle is full of cash, another 20 to 30 pounds of coin," said Maj. Riggs.

Even though some are able to walk away with them, it's not an easy feat.

Maj. Riggs said, "If it's locked on you have to pick up the whole stand and carry it away."

In fact, the only person that has a key to unlock the kettle from the stand is a Salvation Army driver. And not even they have the key to unlock the kettles. The driver takes them to the Salvation Army, where they're unlocked by someone else, in front of at least two volunteers. The money is then counted and taken to the bank each night. And as for the volunteers, they're given a criminal background check.

Maj. Riggs said, "If we were to lose a kettle even with a hundred dollars in it, that hundred dollars means four people wouldn't get a week's worth of groceries."

In his 30 years at The Salvation Army, Maj. Riggs says he has only seen one kettle stolen in Sioux Falls, but only because it wasn't locked up. AS a safety precaution, their kettles are emptied twice a day.

The organization hopes to raise $350,000 this year in Sioux Falls alone. That amounts to one-third of their entire budget for the year.
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