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Thief makes off with Salvation Army kettle in front of Joliet store

A view SalvatiArmy kettle K-Mart Tuesday Dec. 18 2012 1801 W. JeffersSt. Joliet. A thief made off with kettle stafter

A view of a Salvation Army kettle at the K-Mart Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, at 1801 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet. A thief made off with the kettle and stand after a Salvation Army bell ringer went for a brief bathroom break inside the store on Dec. 15. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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RED KETTLE SPECIAL

Who: Salvation Army

What: Donors match up to $1,200 in red kettle donations

When: Saturday

Where: Kmart, 1801 W. Jefferson St., Joliet

Why: Response to loss of more than $300 from kettle theft during the weekend

The Salvation Army hopes to make up for the $300 lost when a thief took a kettle in front of a busy Joliet store last weekend.

Kmart and two anonymous donors will match red kettle donations up to $1,200 on Saturday at the Joliet store.

On Saturday, a thief ran off with the kettle — stand and all — while a bell-ringer was taking a break at the Kmart store, 1801 W. Jefferson St.

Stealing a kettle is no easy feat since it’s locked to a stand that’s connected to a 60-pound base, said Lt. Daniel Simmons at the Salvation Army Joliet Corps.

“It generally happens every year at different locations,” Simmons said. “People pick up the whole thing, throw it in a van, or they run off with it as happened with us.”

The theft outside the entrance to the store was captured on a store surveillance camera, and Joliet police are on the case.

Collins said he was told that the thief stood around the kettle for awhile acting like he belonged there until he saw an opportunity to grab it and run. One witness followed him as the man ran to the rear of the store and managed to cut the kettle from the stand before taking off.

“It’s terrible that something like that would happen here,” said Store Manager Craig Hutchens. “We thought we’d come back and try to help out a bit.”

Kmart will match up to $100 in donations, while the anonymous donors will match the rest up to $1,200. Salvation Army Joliet Corps wants to raise $250,000 with its Red Kettle Campaign this season. Collins said donations have been lagging a little from the goal, but he has confidence the target will be reached.

“I know the community is going to rally behind us,” Collins said. “They’ve been absolutely great.”

In November, donors provided enough toys for the Salvation Army to distribute to more than 800 families this Christmas.

Bell ringers will remain at the red kettles on streets and outside stores until Dec. 24. But the campaign continues until Jan. 31.

Donors can call 1-800-825-2769 or donate online at www.salarmychicago.org. For the first time, donations can also be made by texting. To make a $10 donation text SHIELD to the number 41444.

Individuals or companies who want to make matching pledges can call 773-205-3252 or email carl_johann@usc.salvationarmy.org.



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