Salvation Army bell ringer arrested at Sterling Heights Kmart

Police say man was stealing items from store

Published On: Dec 22 2011 06:19:29 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 22 2011 07:36:43 PM EST
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. -

In the final days before Christmas, just about every store front will have a Salvation Army bell ringer collecting money for those in need.

But according to Sterling Heights police, a 21-year-old bell ringer, stationed outside of the Kmart at 18 Mile and Dequindre roads, was collecting for himself.

"Kmart lost prevention noticed this man committed retail fraud on the 5th, 6th and 7th of December," said Lt. Luke Riley.

The Detroit resident admitted to police he stole more than $200 worth of Christmas gifts during his bell ringing shift. It is reported he stole a BB gun and CO2 cartridges on day one, a personal massager on day two and XBOX 360 video games on day three.

"He did admit he was going to give these as gifts to family members," said Riley.

The Salvation Army released this statement about the arrest:

"The bell ringer in question has been removed from their duties and will never again be allowed to represent The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army remains committed to helping the people of metro Detroit, as it has for the last 125 years. We encourage those who are able to give generously to the red kettles in these last few days before they go away on Christmas Eve. We cannot afford to fall short of our $8.2 million Red Kettle Campaign goal. Every donation is critical to assisting The Salvation Army in providing vital social services throughout the entire year, including providing more than 3.1 million meals and over 687,000 nights of shelter to the people of metro Detroit."