INDIAN RIVER COUNTY–Salvation Army Bell Ringers are on guard after a string of Red Kettle thefts around the state in recent weeks.
With just a few days left to Christmas Eve, the last day of bell ringing, Bell Ringers are being reminded to take precautions when it comes to their kettles.
They need to “be mindful of what others are doing,” Salvation Army Director of Development John Corapi said of being aware of surroundings.
Last year, and again this year, the Salvation Army has partnered with local law enforcement to help dissuade would-be kettle thieves.
Members of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office have been asked to collect the kettles at night and also increase patrols of the areas where the Red Kettles are.
“It’s a matter of public safety,” Corapi said, noting that a thief could endanger the well-being of the Bell Ringer or by-standers.
Bell Ringer Bert Abbey, who was minding a kettle outside the Village Beach Market on A-1-A said he wasn’t concerned about the kettle’s safety due to the clientele of the area.
However, he added, he has worked other Red Kettle sites and could see why there might be concern.
“These are hard times,” he said. “It’s a sad state of affairs.”
He has noticed Indian River Shores officers pass through the area, keeping an eye on the kettle.
Abbey pointed to a notice posted to the back side of the Salvation Army sign above the kettle, which tells Bell Ringers that they need to call 911 if the kettle were stolen.
“They say don’t try to protect it,” he said.
With less than 10 days left to the Red Kettle drive, the Salvation Army of Indian River County has collected about 75 percent of its goal of $150,000. Corapi said that the organization usually sees a strong push at the very end and hopes that happens again this year.
The Red Kettle drive serves as the Salvation Army’s largest fund-raiser and helps support the organization’s work year-round, not just during the holiday season.