Vandals hit Detroit community center's heating, cooling system

La Sed Community Center forced to keep kids out of gym after heating, cooling system is stripped for copper

Published On: Jun 25 2013 11:02:06 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 25 2013 11:23:05 PM EDT
DETROIT -

At the La Sed Community Center in southwest Detroit the lights are out, there's no action on the basketball court and it could be that way for a while.

A few weeks ago, they were robbed. The thieves didn't break in but they climbed up the roof and gutted three heating and cooling systems for copper, making it nearly unbearable to be inside the center this time of the year.

"Our community has been hit very hard in the last week. Several businesses, up to 40 churches, non-profits, businesses have been hit," said Jane C. Garcia, of the La Sed Community Center.

And they've been hit twice. Just a few days ago, surveillance video caught a man smashing a boulder through the front door. He climbed in, and in less than a minute, he was off with a box full of cash.

They've posted the video to the community center's Facebook page hoping to catch the bad guy.

"It's the kids who suffer the most," said Jimmy Reyes, a volunteer basketball coach at the center. "I feel bad for the kids more than anything."

Which, with the rash of break-ins, has been tough. But despite the setback, this community center won't stay down for long.

"Yeah, the guy got away with a couple dollars and is it worth having a kid outside in the street ... it's not worth it. We need to have these kids in the building," said Reyes.

It will cost nearly $60,000 to replace the heating and cooling system. The community center hopes to raise that through donations.