WOLCOTT, Conn. (WTNH) — The Wolcott Senior Center was closed this week after thousands of dollars worth of damage was found at the building Monday morning.
Police received a call of a fire alarm sounding at the senior center on Nichols Road at 3:20 a.m. Monday.
Upon arrival, responders did not find a fire, but instead, they found extensive damage inside the building. Police believe the two burglars, later found to be juveniles, removed a window screen and forced the window open to get in.
The juveniles forced their way into a locked office where they stole money and then got into a locked pantry to destroy the food and other contents. The knobs of the gas stove were left on.
Police said the library was ransacked and full of destroyed books and computers.
Wolcott Police Chief Edward Stephens told News 8 Monday, “They ransacked everything. Nothing was standing anymore. Everything was on the ground. From there they went to the library and ransacked that, everything on the floor. The damage is unbelievable. In my 40 years, I’ve never seen anything as bad as this.”
The fire alarm was set off after they removed the fire extinguisher and sprayed it all over the card room, police said.
Afterward, police said the two youths left the building and stole a car from Badger Road. As they left the area, they hit two other cars. Police found the stolen car parked in the lot of a factory on Nichols Rd. with the two people inside. When they saw the officers, they drove the vehicle out of the lot and sped directly into a telephone pole.
Police said the two juveniles have been taken into custody.
They were charged with the following, along with numerous vehicle charges:
- Criminal Mischief
- Crim. Attempt at Arson
- Larceny of a Motor vehicle
An order of detention was submitted to have the juveniles transported to a juvenile facility, but the judge denied it. Both juveniles were released to the guardian.
However, around 5 p.m. Monday, Wolcott PD released an update saying, “After making contact with both of the juvenile probation officers, as well as a member of the Juvenile States Attorneys Office, both juveniles have now been ordered to detention.”
Word of what happened spread quickly, and the community has already stepped up to help.
Jeannie Venditti of Wolcott Senior Center said, “We really are feeling an outpouring, even from neighboring senior centers. Our local food pantry has offered to help us to replace some of the food items lost.”
Chief Ed Stephens added, “We had generous offers from everyone – throughout town and elsewhere – about wanting to help clean it up, which is very generous. It shows the type of community we do live in.”
News 8 checked in with Wolcott police Tuesday, and they said most of the mess has been cleaned up, but there are a few things that need to be repaired or replaced. And, the senior center is working to restock the pantry. Police believe the senior center will be back open by the end of the week.
Wolcott Senior Center is typically a cooling center. If you are in need of a local cooling center during the heat wave this week, dial 211 or visit 211ct.org for a list.