PAINESVILLE TOWNSHIP -- The Lake County Sheriff's Office is looking for a man who impersonated a Salvation Army bell-ringer and then made off with a kettle of cash.

According to Chief Deputy Frank Leonbruno, the man went to the Painesville Township Giant Eagle, 1201 Mentor Ave., at 3 p.m. Saturday and told the Salvation Army volunteers that he was their relief.

They told him they were not supposed to be relieved until 4 p.m., so he walked around the store until 4 and then relieved the workers.

At 4:30 p.m., a Salvation Army representative arrived to check on the worker and saw that the shift change had gone smoothly.

Shortly thereafter, the man left with the money and the pot, according to Leonbruno.

"I think he knew the system," says Major Robert Bender of The Salvation Army. "He's probably run with us before. I believed him when I spoke with him, I even told him if there is a problem, call me."

The man was wearing a cowboy hat and tan jacket. He left in a blue four-door car.

"I am not going to let some grinch take the real meaning of Christmas out from all the good people who donate to us."

Anyone with information about the man's identity is asked to call the Sheriff's Office Detective Bureau at (440) 350-5500.

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