The Rockford Salvation Army says criminals have hit a new low.
Two men reportedly stole a Salvation Army kettle when a bell ringer manning the donation kettle went inside a store to warm up.
Salvation Army say the kettle, stand and all was stolen from the Walgreen's at the intersection of Charles and 20th streets. Salvation Army officials say this is the first time they remember this happening in Rockford.
According to a witness, two men pulled up in a van and grabbed the kettle while the bell ringer was inside warming up for a few minutes. An action that's shocked Salvation Army leaders.
"It's really not taking from us. It's taking from the community. It's discouraging. It's disappointing,” says Roger Mantel, Salvation Army Director of Youth Ministries.
The kettle alone is worth $200 and probably contained about $125. Salvation Army leaders think the thieves were likely watching the bell ringer for a while.
"It happened very quickly. It was almost like it was planned. Very well planned,” says Mantel.
The thieves made off with the kettle, stand and signage because they're all well secured together. However mantel is not concerned about that the suspects will pose as bell-ringers.
"If someone were to set up a kettle and stand in a remote location, I think we would hear about it pretty quickly and be able to resolve the situation quickly,” Mantel says.
Rockford police say it's unlikely that they'll recover the kettle, but Salvation Army officials say they simply want to bring attention to the matter and make the public aware.
Mantel says they have few details about the suspects and if anyone has information he urges them to contact the Salvation Army or Rockford Police. The bell ringer is still on the job.