HUDSON — A 29-year-old man was charged this week in the theft of a Salvation Army donation kettle at a Walmart just days before Christmas.
The Pasco Sheriff's Office said Joel P. Rushing, of Port Richey, took off with the bucket on Dec. 22 at the Walmart at 12610 U.S. 19. The Salvation Army bell ringer believed there was more than $300 in the kettle when it was stolen, a report states.
Two customers chased the thief but were unable to catch him, authorities said.
Rushing was arrested Jan. 3 on unrelated charges of grand theft auto and driving with a suspended or revoked license. A tip led detectives to investigate Rushing for the Salvation Army theft. Rushing's girlfriend told deputies he "was bragging about getting about $800 from the collection bucket," the report states.
Rushing, who has served more than six years in prison for escape, cocaine possession, burglary and grand theft auto, was charged Tuesday with grand theft. He is in the Pasco County jail in lieu of $17,600 bail.