It's a sound that's identifiable with the holidays: the ringing of the bell by a Salvation Army worker with a red kettle. For decades, the bell ringers have been stationed outside retailers collecting donations in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
"We're not on corners," said the Austin Salvation Army spokesperson Randy Allen.
However, Monday morning witnesses say a man was posing as a bell ringer on the corner of Parmer and Metric in North Austin. A woman called The Salvation Army and Austin police to notify them.
"She and her husband approached this man and he fled," said Allen.
Witnesses reported that the man was white, about 6' tall with brown hair and was wearing a dark colored suit and holding a red kettle.
Richard Reid, who said he saw the man, told FOX 7 he was holding a bucket with "The Salvation Army" written on it.
"I was wondering I said, 'who's this guy?' And he had a black suit on and was walking up and down the aisle," Reid said.
Reid used to be a bell ringer himself so he knew it was out of the ordinary to see one on a street corner. Allen said although situations like this are rare, he has heard about someone posing as a bell ringer before.
"This situation is a very selfish one when the kettle money goes to children's programs, computer labs, music classes, camps, etc. And, it's basically like when the church collection plate goes by and you take some money rather than leave something."
He just hopes it doesn't discourage anyone from donating to the kettle campaign which helps families in need even after the bells stop ringing.