AC thefts a blow to agency serving disabled

By Chuck Weber bio | email

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Who would steal from a group that helps children with serious disabilities? As if tough economic times weren't enough, thieves have dealt a setback to The ARC of Palm Beach County, an agency with 12 programs for people with disabilities, and their families.

At The ARC's headquarters in Riviera Beach, maintenance workers arrived Wednesday morning to find thieves had likely scaled several fences, and completely dismantled four of the nine air conditioning units on the property. The burglars were apparently targeting the copper parts.

Fortunately, the units sending air to the classrooms were left in tact. It was in the offices where temperatures soared to 87 degrees -- not a comfortable work environment.

But most significant, replacing the units will cost The ARC nearly $20,000. "Having such a hit to your bottom line is not an easy thing to absorb," said Kim Hanson of The Arc.

Hanson added, while the organization's donors have been loyal, contributions are down overall and the agency now receives less money from state and local governments. Hanson said she does not expect staff positions to be affected, but cuts will have to be made somewhere.

"I think they're robbing from the children and the staff," stated Jenipher Kelly, mother of a four-year old girl who's started to speak and walk with assistance, since attending The ARC's Potentials school. "I mean whoever did this, it's a shame." Kelly said.

The ARC has set up an emergency air conditioning fund. Information on how to help replace the A/C units is on the agency's Web site,, or you can call (561) 842-3213.