SEBRING - Ahn McQueen cannot believe a nonprofit center that provides fellowship, food and fun to senior citizens would become prey to thieves, but that's reportedly what happened early this week.
The Highlands Senior Center, 3400 Sebring Parkway, Sebring, was broken into between 9:30 p.m. Monday and 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and $3,700 worth of electronics, and sound and music equipment was taken, according to the Sebring Police Department.
That includes four brand-new 24-inch flat screen TVs that were just mounted on two walls Jan. 11, said McQueen, who is the treasurer of the center.
Also stolen was music equipment that belonged to the different groups that play at the center, McQueen said.
One of the entertainers, Dan Patrick, was performing Wednesday to a small crowd that took the floor.
Because his equipment stored at the center was no longer there, he was using his old band set that had been sitting in his garage, she said.
"We think it's horrible that someone would take advantage of a senior citizen place," said Barbara Hester, shaking her head in disgust.
"This is going to hurt our pocketbook," said Ahn, who is planning to get a bank loan along with her husband, Bob, to help pay to replace some of the stolen items and fix a back air-conditioner unit that has stopped working after the break-in.
Sebring Police Lt. Karl Hoglund said they have no leads so far. The center does not have security cameras or an alarm system, he said, and they have not obtained any leads from the neighborhood.
The case is still under investigation and authorities will be entering the serial numbers of the stolen items in a database so they can be flagged down in case someone tries to pawn them, he said.
It appears the robbers entered through a window in an adjoining room that is used for storage. A rear window was found smashed, Hoglund said.
For more than four years, the center has entertained from 90 to 170 people a day several times a week, and until now, had no untoward incident of any kind, McQueen said.
The center is covered by insurance and McQueen said they are looking into the policy details.
Meanwhile, anyone who has any leads can call the Sebring Police Department at 863-471-5108.
Anyone who wants to donate to help the center replace some of the items can call 386-0752.