QUEENSBURY — For the first time in 27 years at the Salvation Army of Greater Glens Falls, Major David Dean is dealing with the theft of one of its Red Kettles.

The kettle was stolen at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the door to the food court at Aviation Mall.

“The volunteer took dinner, came back and the pot and chain had been stolen,” said Dean, who estimated $100 to $150 was taken.

He said the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft and the Salvation Army is taking steps to keep such a theft from happening again.

“We have since brought in all units and reinforced all the chains and locks,” Dean said. “We found the bucket later, and it had been ripped open.”

Thursday afternoon, Diane Wood was sitting next to the kettle outside the mall’s food court entrance, ringing a bell.

“You can’t even do anything nice for the kids,” she said. “You try to help the kids and these people come in and steal the money. I hope they catch them.”

Wood said this was her first year ringing bells and said that Tuesday had been fairly busy for her.

She said that when she takes her break, she sits inside the mall and watches the kettle, but that when she has to use the ladies room, she just has to hope the kettle is still there when she gets back.

Dean said the theft came on an evening when there was heavy rain.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office said the case remains under investigation.

The theft comes at a rough time for the group, which is struggling to fill its volunteer lists for bell-ringing.

The Red Kettle campaign has run behind last year’s pace in 16 of the first 25 days, Dean said, and was $7,000 behind at the beginning of the week.

You can read Bill Toscano’s blog at poststar.com/blogs or his updates on Twitter, @billtoscano_ps.