Elderly Victims Call Thefts 'Upsetting'; Center Will Install Another Unit Next Week

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The heat is on for a Jersey City senior center.

Vandals ripped off the building’s central air conditioning unit and it wasn’t the first time it’s happened. The elderly victims called the thefts cold-blooded.

If there’s a bingo number 66-year-old Barbara Anderson finds too hot to handle, it has to be “hot 84.”

“No bingo today, extremely too hot,” Anderson told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis on Thursday.

Rising temperatures could be felt inside the Collier Memorial Senior Center in Jersey City after thieves stole the building’s outdoor AC unit, leaving Anderson in a sweat.

“I wish they would just leave us seniors alone,” Anderson said.

Overnight Thursday, a new $6,000 unit was pried out of its frame and hoisted over a fence, without even breaking the lock.

The center’s director said the theft was shocking.

“We have seniors here, this is their outlet,” Inez Fry said.

But it’s so hot, the recreation room can’t be used. The pool table sits idle with empty chairs representing the dozens of seniors now being temporarily shut out.

And the real cost?

“Eventually it’s gonna come down to the taxpayer, replacing these units,” said Larry Eccleston, the Director of Senior Affairs in Jersey City. “The money spent on this could be going for new equipment for the center.”

It took a couple of hours before the staff noticed something was amiss. The temperature inside was rising rapidly, so they looked at the thermostat and found it at 84 degrees and climbing into the night.

“It really is upsetting because a lot of our players had to be turned away,” Anderson said.

And that’s the bull’s-eye for Anderson, who called the thieves “snakes alive.”

“They’re hurting us seniors and maybe one day they might be able to be a senior and have to come here,” Anderson said.

It’s a gamble she said the heartless vandals wouldn’t want to risk.

The center hopes to have another AC unit, which will be bolted down more securely, installed next week.


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