- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2013

D.C. police released video Monday showing two men believed to have stolen more than $10,000 in donations from the Salvation Army.

The money had been collected over the Thanksgiving weekend through the Salvation Army’s iconic Red Kettle program, which for decades has placed bell ringers and bright red donation kettles outside of busy shopping centers to solicit donations. The burglars stole the money from the Salvation Army’s Southeast D.C. office early Sunday.

The video released by the Metropolitan Police Department shows two people wearing jackets with hoods pulled over their heads as they wander through the building at a leisurely pace. Time stamps on the video indicate the pair burglarized the organization’s Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center, located at 2300 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue in Southeast, over a number of hours.

In the clips, taken from surveillance cameras inside the building, the pair is seen rifling through a desk and later one suspect is visible jogging through a hallway with a large pair of pliers in hand. The burglars broke into a locked administrative office and stole several days worth of donations stored in a safe.

“I’m baffled how they got into the safe,” said Salvation Army spokesman Ken Forsythe. “We did notice that one of the hinges looked like it had been tampered with.”

He estimates that approximately $10,000 in cash was taken.

The pair eventually fled from the facility with the cash after being confronted by a security guard inside the building. Officials said one of the burglars pulled a knife on the security guard but that he was unharmed.

“We hope all of the money taken will be returned,” said Maj. Lewis Reckline, commander of The Salvation Army National Capital Area Command. “These were funds donated by the community to help locally struggling families who reside in Southeast D.C.”

The program kicked off Nov. 9 this year and will continue through Christmas Eve.

Since the burglary was first reported, Mr. Forsythe said there has been an outpouring of support from people who wanted to donate to replace the stolen money.

“While we may have had some interesting kettle ringing seasons, we’ve never had anything like this,” Mr. Forsythe said.