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Break-In At Salvation Army Center In D.C. Costs Charity $10,000 In Donations

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The breakin left the National Capital Area office of the Salvation Army in disarray.
Salvation Army
The breakin left the National Capital Area office of the Salvation Army in disarray.

Officials with the Salvation Army want to know who broke into one of their community centers in D.C. over the weekend and stole at least $10,000 in donations collected through the charity's Red Kettle Program.

$10,000 in small bills and coins — that's what administrators say was stolen from a Salvation Army center in southeast D.C. during the weekend. It's the collective effort of dozens of bell-ringing volunteers familiar to many  during the Christmas holiday season. 

"We have our Christmas program — 14,000 kids in the D.C. area we're trying to help this year," says Major Lewis Reckline, the Salvation Army area commander. "We have rent utility, food programs, we have a feeding program where we go out each night a feed homeless on the streets. Those are the ones that could be affected by this cause when you have a lack of funds you have a lack of ability to assist people."

As investigators follow leads, some residents in the Anacostia neighborhood where the money was stolen can't help but conclude the thieves live close by.

"It was awful, and this is your community so why would you steal from yourself?" says Althea Taylor, an area resident with a message for the thieves. "That could be your family in need this holiday season. One of your nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, that needs something and could have possibly been helped by that."

Still, one Salvation Army volunteer says that the theft was no surprise. "[It] makes me feel bad; I mean, you know we're out here for eight hours — at least I am, says Dee Dee Randolph. "I don't understand why the money was still in the center and not in the bank. Why did they leave the money there?"

Regardless of whether the theft should have been expected or not, Major Reckline is making an appeal to whoever stole the money: "Just give it back. Do what you should be doing and give it back to the Salvation Army so we can help people."

Investigators say a security guard confronted the suspect who then flashed a knife. No one was injured.

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