Thieves strip A/C units from CLE senior center

Posted at 11:22 PM, Sep 10, 2015

Copper thieves did six-figures worth of damage to a social service center in Slavic Village overnight Thursday.

University Settlement on 4800 Broadway Ave. serves children and seniors in the community through a host of programs and a food pantry.

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Sometime overnight, thieves snuck onto the building's roof, likely climbing a tree and stepping on top of a barbed wire fence, and stripped copper from seven out of 11 air-conditioning units that serve the non-profit.

They also turned surveillance cameras away.

"Obviously I'm angry, I'm upset, because the staff at University Settlement, we work very, very hard to serve the community," said director Derrick Fulton.

The seniors who use a multi-purpose room that no longer has air-conditioning were on a field trip on Thursday and will learn of the damages -- and the heat -- when they return.

Kids like Serena Thomas, 11, and Macker Billups, 10, are already feeling the heat.

"It's sad because we shouldn't have to suffer and be hot," Thomas said. "Could you please give it back to us because we need it. Maybe University Settlement could help you get one so you could have one for your family and yourself?"

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Copper is currently selling for about $1.60 per pound in Cleveland and thieves stripped a couple hundred pounds from the A/C units.

"The amount they're going to get from turning in this scrap metal, wherever they're able to turn it in, the cost is probably a couple hundred dollars. We're looking at six-figures damage in relationship to what happened," Fulton said.

Fulton said the non-profit is insured, but has a very high deductible because they have been hit by vandals before.

"We have to raise dollars for operational support and a lot of our partners in the community who want to support us, they support us for programming," Fulton said. "But when you talk about operational support, those dollars are not easy to come by."

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Taste of Slavic Village is the nonprofit's biggest fundraiser of the year and is coming up on Oct. 1.


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