ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Local police are searching for a holiday bell ringer, who was supposed to be helping the Salvation Army, but instead is accused of helping herself to hundreds of dollars.
Rocky River police have obtained an arrest warrant for 47-year-old April Harris who is charged with one count of theft. Investigators said Harris didn’t steal donations from the kettle, rather she took money from a customer.
It happened Monday, December 17 at the Giant Eagle grocery store, located at 22160 Center Ridge Rd.
According to police and court records, Harris picked up a wallet that was dropped by a customer in the parking lot.
Surveillance video shows her then removing $600 from the wallet and putting it in her pocket.
Harris then went inside the store, and returned the wallet to its rightful owner, without the cash.
Major Thomas Applin, Executive Director of the Salvation Army in Cuyahoga County learned about the theft soon after it happened.
“It’s sad; it’s unfortunate. We feel really bad for the victim,” said Major Applin. He added that there are concerns that this theft could impact donations at a time when donations are already down, but greatly needed.
Speaking with FOX 8 Wednesday, Major Applin wanted to assure the public that their bell ringers are trustworthy and vetted before being hired.
This year there are between 100-150 across Cuyahoga County alone. The majority are hardworking and never have so much as a complaint against them.
He believes Harris must’ve been feeling desperate to steal.
“That doesn’t diminish the issue. It’s serious; it’s important and it’s saddening, but it really doesn’t happen often,” said Applin.
He said he hopes Harris turns herself in to police and can make the situation right. He also hopes that people will continue to support the Salvation Army and all that they do for less fortunate families.
“The services of the Salvation Army are 24/7 — seven days a week, 365 days a year and we’re the place people go when there’s no hope anywhere else,” said Applin.
Harris faces up to a year behind bars and up to a $1,000 fine for the offense.