SCRANTON -- Police in Scranton have arrested a man they believe is responsible for stealing dozens of air conditioners meant for needy families.
Investigators say they were stolen, bit by bit, over the course of a few months and pawned for cash.
According to court papers, the son of the owner of Pennsylvania Clothing Recyclers on Rosanna Avenue stole those air conditioners from warehouse space rented by Friends of the Poor.
Officials with the charity organization say since we first reported on the theft earlier this week, people have stepped up to save the air conditioner program.
Friends of the Poor President Sister Ann Walsh feared the charity's summer program of distributing air conditioners to needy families would be impossible after finding that more than $5,000 worth of AC units had been swiped from Friends of the Poor warehouse space.
According to court papers, the owner of All American Swap Shop on South Main Avenue Learned about the theft on Newswatch 16 and noticed the AC units matched three sold to him by Hinkley.
We spoke to the owner over the phone. He did not want to be interviewed on camera but he said when he found out the air conditioners belonged to Friends of the Poor, he felt like he needed to call the police.
That's not the only lucky break Friends of the Poor has received since Wednesday.
"I have mixed emotions. I'm glad that we have solved everything that went on. And I'm happy because our region is just so wonderful. With the outpouring that we got yesterday of donations, we're hoping we're going to be able to purchase air conditioners, as many as we can, and give them to as many people who need them," said Sister Ann Walsh.
Sister Ann says people have dropped off money, even brand new air conditioners, to the Friends of the Poor headquarters on Jackson Street in Scranton.
It's enough to revive the air conditioner program.
"I feel much better than I did the day that it happened. So, I'm just so grateful to be in this area where people care about everybody else and really come to the aid. I'm very grateful about that," said Sister Ann.
Scranton police say by using an online pawn shop database, they were able to account for close to half of the stolen air conditioners. Unfortunately, most of those have been sold. Five will be returned to Friends of the Poor.