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Police investigate kettle thefts outside local Schnucks stores

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Salvation Army officials call the thefts of area fundraising Christmas kettles very unusual. They were stolen in just over a week here in the St. Louis area.

All the crimes happened at Schnucks stores. They happened either between bell ringer shifts or when the bell ringers took a break.

“To have three stolen in such rapid succession, I think this is the biggest number of kettle thefts in one area I’ve seen,” Salvation Army’s Lt. Col. Dan Jennings said.

The first two thefts happened November 22 outside an Affton store and one in Ladue. The most recent kettle theft occurred in south city Wednesday.

Shoppers like Mary Myracle are stunned by the brazen crimes.

“I think people have no more conscience anymore. They just want what they think should be theres; it doesn’t matter who it comes from or who it hurts,” she said.

Schnucks is working closely with police to help catch the suspects. Donations to a kettle on a good day can be as much as a thousand dollars. No one is sure how much was lost in all these thefts.

The kettles are locked. The thieves did not cut the lock to get to the cash inside.

“They just picked up the stand and put it in—presumably—in their vehicle and drove off with it,” Jennings said.

“It saddens us because this is vital revenue that we need to be able to provide help for children to unwrap Christmas presents, for homeless people to have a roof over their heads, and for hungry people to have food.”

These thefts come at a time when this year’s campaign is about $100,000 behind where it should be.

Salvation Army officials want folks to know if they are in need that they can help, adding that people don’t have to turn to a life of crime.