Armed robber loses dollar to Salvation Army bell ringer

Mark Hallum mans the Salvation Army kettle at Walgreens on the corner of Oak and Harkrider streets. Two incidents of attempted aggravated robbery were unsuccessful Tuesday, police said, when volunteers refused to give up the donations. COURTNEY SPRADLIN PHOTO

Conway police are investigating the aggravated robbery of a bell ringer outside of JC Penney in Conway Towne Centre Tuesday night.

La Tresha Woodruff, public information officer with CPD said the robbery remained unreported for an unknown amount of time until an on-patrol officer drove through the area and was informed of the incident by the bell ringer.

The man told police he didn’t report the incident initially because he was a veteran and he wasn’t afraid following the incident.

According to officials, the driver of a red Chevrolet Camaro, a black male believed to be in his 20’s, pulled up to the bell ringer and offered a dollar for the Salvation Army’s kettle.

Three other passengers in the car included another black male and two black females, also believed to be in their 20’s.

The volunteer then reportedly placed the dollar into the kettle and turned to thank the man for his donation, but instead found himself face-to-face with a 9mm handgun.

The driver demanded the kettle, but the bell ringer refused.

“He basically said, ‘You do what you’ve got to do, but I’m not giving you the kettle,’” Woodruff said.

The pair reportedly stared at each other for a while before the man drove away from the scene.

Salvation Army representatives said another similar incident occurred at Walmart on Skyline Drive prior to the JC Penney incident and was not reported to police.

The volunteer at that location also reportedly refused to give up the kettle.

“This worked out very well for the people in these situations but we do not advise that people do this sort of thing,” Woodruff said. “If someone points a gun, you should comply.”

Woodruff said it is also imperative that any incidents be reported to police.

“If we had known, we could have possibly patrolled other areas and caught these people in the act,” Woodruff said. “If this is reported,  police can get on their trail pretty fast.”

Patrols are heightened throughout the holiday season, Woodruff said, but will be revved up even more in light of the incidents.

“We are going to try to remain very visible so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again,” Woodruff said.

(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1277. Follow us on Twitter @lcdonline.)


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