Burglary Ring Targets Nursing Homes
Theft in nursing homes is always a concern, but a band of burglars has taken it to a new level, hitting long-term care facilities in six states.
An organized gang of thieves – believed to be all male – dress as female nurses and walk into nursing homes when residents are typically out of their rooms, such as during dinner. The “nurses” hit residents’ rooms, taking credit cards.
So far the thieves have hit hundreds of nursing home residents. Typically charging purchases at such stores as Wal-Mart and Kmart, police estimate these fraudulent purchases to be anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000.
To date, only one of the burglars has been apprehended.
To protect your loved one's possessions while they are in a nursing home, there are several key things that you can do:
- Take inventory of all personal possessions that your loved one has with them at the residence. Give a copy of the list to the nursing home facility, a loved one or family member, and an attorney if possible.
- Check to see if your loved one’s homeowners insurance can be extended to the new facility.
- Keep receipts and take pictures of all valuable items that are with your loved one at the nursing home. These should be stored in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box.
- Mark all clothing and valuables with either indelible markers or a permanent engraving. Thieves are less likely to take easily identifiable items.
- Invest in a room safe where your loved one can keep cherished items that are one-of-a-kind. Make sure that your loved one does not share the combination or key with anyone they don’t explicitly trust.
- Know that Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) and nursing homes are not able to seize personal items, such as furnishings and other personal property, for payment.
Of course, the best defense against theft is not to keep credit cards and personal valuables at the nursing home at all.