Arrest Made in Air Conditioner Thefts

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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.

Scranton police now say Jesse Hinkley, 29, the son of the owner of the warehouse in north Scranton had been slowly taking the air conditioners and pawning them.

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.


  • Doreen Finley

    I have sit back and laugh at some of these comments. More proof that this area is filled with hateful, uneducated people. More bitching about needy familes and the elderly receiving air conditioners, the the scum bag thief that was stealing them. I’m pretty sure if the scum bag theif was something other than caucasian there would be plenty of comments. Makes me sick to my stomach to see such hateful people who I am sure call themselves good Christians.

    • Jack Kerouac

      I’m with you sister. NEPA is filled with bigots, trolls and dolts. They hide behind the anonymity of the internet and make horrible comments about people. I left the area in 1987 and I do not miss it at all. And, but the way JustSayin, I am so glad that you work and make six figures by fixing things with your hands. More than I can say about many of the other idiots who comments on this page. I know that many of you good folks who make obnoxious comments on this page are good Christians and bible scholars, however this may refresh your recollection of what it means to be nice-(Philipians 2:1-4) Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have a blessed day.

  • unreal

    i think this is crazy, really air conditioners given out!!! so give the needy them and then pay for their electric to run them…put the money toward food and clothing for the needy….i work full time and can’t afford air for my house!!

    • Roger Ebert

      Perhaps you should have studied harder and that way you could have gotten a better job. In addition, a refresher course in English and grammar would not hurt. Remember–always capitalize the “I” when it stands alone. Bless your heart. :-)

      • Just Sayin

        Oh my! Grammar. I misspelled. Please don’t send the secret police to drag me out of my bed in the middle of the night. By the way, I make 6 figures by making, fixing and repairing things with my hands. I have done extremely well for myself even with sub-par grammAR! I hope your skills are not limited to correcting people’s Grammar!

    • Just Sayin

      Yeh, how about That! When I grew up we never had air conditioning. Slept with a fan in front of an open window. I never had A/C until I got a job where I could afford to buy them (and pay the added cost to electric bill)! I never realized A/C (and cell phones for that matter) were life sustaining like food and Water!


    And another thing. How can a poor person afford 19 air conditioners? How big of a home does he or she have? I work 2 jobs and all I can afford is 8 inch table fan. And it doesn’t rotate.

    • JustG

      All of the air conditioners were not meant to give to only one household. One per needy home. Usually there is a medical reason why just a fan alone is not good enough. People with heart conditions or those recovering from serious surgery or even a stroke; those type of situations might be reason to give one air conditioner to that type of person.

      • Just Sayin

        If that is where they actually end Up! But I am sure a few will end up in section 8 housing for the “game players”!

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