A senior center robbery has left administrators picking up the pieces.
On Wednesday, June 12, an unknown number of thieves made their way to the Robert Couche Senior Center in Jamaica.
They allegedly took two catalytic converters from the center’s two vans, which are used for transporting the seniors.
Without the converters, which change internal combustion into less toxic fumes, the vans cannot be driven.
“We’re here a long time and we’ve never had any problems,” said Eleanor Kelly, the center’s executive director. “I was shocked.”
The day after the theft, one of the center’s drivers showed up at the Farmers Boulevard site to pick up seniors. He discovered a catalytic converter was missing, and administrators immediately contacted the 113th Precinct.
The vans hold 20 people apiece and make at least four trips every day. They are not just for transporting seniors to and from the center. They are also used to bring people to off-site activities during the day.
To compensate for the vans being out of commission, the drivers used their personal cars to pick up the seniors, Kelly said.
“I have such dedicated drivers,” she said. “But we couldn’t bring in nearly the amount of people we usually do.”
Kelly was told the catalytic converters are a popular target and sell for around $1,500. While the robbery took her and other officials by surprise, she said, “it takes something like that to make you realize these things can happen.”
State Senator James Sanders and Councilmember Leroy Comrie have been in touch with the center in an effort to support the seniors.
“All centers with meal and transportation programs are vital to maintaining a high quality of life for our seniors,” Comrie said. “We cannot have them derailed by criminals seeking an illegal profit.”