DUNWOODY, Ga. - A family is speaking out after their son who was volunteering for the Salvation Army had his kettle stolen. The son, Todd Cooper, uses a wheelchair to get around and said this will not stop him from making a difference this holiday season.
Police said Todd Cooper was volunteering at Perimeter Mall where he has been coming for more than 20 years. This is the first time something like this happened to him and by a suspect who is just a kid. The boy took the money and ran off to take a MARTA train. As for Cooper, he’s focused on coming back to the mall to help the community.
The Coopers, they're a family that always find a reason to smile, even during difficult circumstances.Todd said the theft happened so fast.
"He took my kettle and ran," he said.
Todd told police that he thinks several hundred dollars were inside the kettle and that the suspect snatched it and took off running, possibly towards the MARTA station nearby. Strangers came to his rescue but it was too late to catch the suspect.
Todd's cerebral palsy put his in a wheelchair so when the theft happened he said he started "raising my arm and yelling at somebody to help me."
His mom Becky was disturbed to learn what happened to her son who always devotes him time to helping others.
“If you look at someone who has limited abilities and still tries to be active in the community, doing good and giving back to others,” she said.
He said this won't stop him from giving back because of how giving makes him feel.
"Happy. Great," he said.
He works 40 hours a week collecting donations for those in need.
The suspect is described as being a black boy between the ages of 10-12 years old. The Coopers said they hope this is the first time he steals from people in need.
"The boy that stole the kettle is on the very naughty naughty list,” Becky said.
Detectives are working to get access to security camera footage from both the mall and MARTA in hopes of identifying the suspect.
The Salvation Army said the need this year is immense.
"There is real need in our communities. Money collected in The Salvation Army's Red Kettles is used to sustain our programs, such as those that feed the hungry and provide shelter for the homeless."
They said that they're behind this year on donations.
"As of today, we're $100,000 short of what we collected this time last year. This will have a significant impact on funds available for services going into the new year," the statement read.
Dunwoody Police are asking anyone who may have any information about this incident to please contact Detective Caleb Gilbert with Dunwoody PD.
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