Senior citizens at a Jersey City senior center can't seem to catch a break: thieves have taken their air conditioning units for the second time in the last two weeks, leaving the venue sweltering and unbearable.
The last one was stolen from the Collier Memorial Senior Center Thursday. It was a brand-new replacement for one stolen two weeks ago.
The two units were valued at $3,200 and $3,600.
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Larry Eccleston, director of senior affairs in Jersey City, said quality of life is suffering as a result of the thefts. With events like Bingo and exercise classes canceled, opportunity for social interaction is drastically reduced for seniors.
"All the people have worked all their lives -- now is the time they should be enjoying places like this, to come and have some social activity," said Eccleston. "And you're taking that away from them."
The crowd was noticeably thinner at the senior center as lunch was served Friday. Rhudy Snelling, 79, said many of the older visitors who are sick cannot handle the heat and will not venture out.
"We got people, they're nervous, they have different conditions. They need to be comfortable when they come," said Snelling.
With temperatures hovering over 80 degrees and the humidity running high, "the next thing you know, we have heat exhaustion or some kind of heat stroke," said Eccleston.
Dorothy Johnson, who's turning 90 years old in a few days, is upset her cooling center has been turned into a sauna and has a message for the crooks.
"I would just ask that he would stop bothering it and let the rest of the people survive," she said. "We're being really punished."
The senior center is also a designated cooling center in the community. Seniors are hoping the community will help out and are looking for donations to buy new air conditioning units and get some extra security.
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