Gregory Vaughn, who was working for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, was caught on cell phone video outside a Plano, Texas Walmart, helping himself, instead of others, CBS DFW reports.
Michael Keaton told the station he saw the bell ringer acting suspiciously, so he started recording - and continued for more than 30 minutes.
So Kenton called Plano police and the Salvation Army.
Police say what the video appears to show is that as soon as people dropped donations into the kettle, Vaughn would shake it and take the money.
Major Ward Matthews is in charge of the Salvation Army for Dallas-Ft Worth. He was upset when he learned of the incident.
"I got really angry," said Matthews. "The Salvation is a place of second chances and this individual took advantage of the good faith we placed in him," he told CBS DFW.
To guard against theft, the kettles have locks on each side and the opening on top is very small.
Most of the bell ringers are volunteers, but the station reports that Vaughn was hired since he was in need of a job. Vaughn was terminated immediately by the Salvation Army.
"We're going to do whatever we can so that the public knows we do not allow this," said Matthews.
Plano police recovered the money but issued Vaughn a citation for theft under $50 which is a Class C misdemeanor.
The Red Kettle campaign brings in millions of dollars nationwide to help families in need - especially at Christmas time.