Thieves steal from San Francisco senior citizen dance troupe

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Decked out in Hawaiian print skirt and luau gear, San Francisco's Grant Avenue Follies sashay and swing to the music of Hawaii 5-0 at the Herbst Theater. On this day, the senior dance troupe is performing for several hundred veterans, fellow seniors.

"We started the program as a fundraiser for the Friends of On Lok, which is our favorite non-profit organization." Smiles Cynthia Yee, the group's founder.

Yee and several other dancers got their start in the 1950's Chinatown club scene, and now dance with about a dozen other participants in the Grant Avenue Follies. The troupe tours the country, and performs all over the Bay Area, raising money for organizations in need.

But Friday's show almost didn't go on.

"We had to improvise and scramble around for more jewelry and costumes and feather boas and a lot of bling," said Yee.

On Wednesday, something happened after the Follies presented the "On Lok" senior living facility at Bush and Larkin. They were there, presenting the facility with a $40,000 donation towards a new dementia care center.

"When we got back to the car, we realized that it was broken into and we had lost a lot of our costumes," Marleen Luke said shaking her head.
She has been a dancer and sword performer for about 10 years.

In total, 6-sets of 12 costumes, valued at over $20,000, were gone. Many of them handmade, and to the troupe, priceless.

While there is surveillance video from On Lok, the troupe's SUV was parked across the street at a meter, and a nearby tree blocks the view of what happened.

With tears in her eyes, Pat Chin, an 82-year old performer calls this a tragedy. "People don't know what it's worth and they have to wreck other people's things to just get at it."
While the group knows the chances of getting their costumes back are slim, these seniors have a strong message to whoever did this.

"Don't do that again! Just be glad I didn't catch them -- because I would have used a sword on them," laughed Luke.

So what's next for the troupe? They have performances lined up for Houston, Seattle and Las Vegas.

If you'd like to help them with a donation to buy new costumes, visit their Facebook page to send them a message or call 415-793-1183
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