What should I do if I suspect my mother's caregiver has stolen from her?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I suspect one of my parent 3 caregivers to have stolen some of my jewlery. I am not sure how to handle this. I know the items are missing and they are the only one's who have access to the house. My parent lives in an in-law apartment which is attached to the house and when I am gone I leave the doors open so that our dogs can visit with my parent. I was trusting these women and now I feel violated knowing that my some of my jewlery is missing. Should I tell the caregivers company, should I call the police?

Expert Answers

Merrily Orsini, MSSW, was a pioneer in the business of providing geriatric care managed in-home care. She currently serves on the board of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and is Chair of the Private Duty Homecare Association. She holds a master's degree in social work and is a nationally known writer and speaker on aging, elder issues, and in-home care.

So very sorry you have experienced theft. Unfortunately theft and caregiving is something that happens because of the unsupervised situation. We also found that theft sometimes occurred when there were shifts in the home by others than the caregivers, because the "opportunity" for passing blame was there. So, someone who knows that you leave the doors open could also be the culprit: a neighbor, a plumber, and even a family member.

The theft must be reported to the agency, and also to the police. If there is a bonding coverage, then a conviction has to be secured before the insurance will pay, and a police report is the first step. Whoever is taking from you needs to be caught, punished, and not allowed to provide care again. Thieves tend to be repeat offenders. Also, immediately secure your valuables in a place that is not easily accessible. Jewelry is usually very easily accessible, and it is small, so it makes a perfect target for someone who wants to steal.

Also, think about installing video cameras that are motion sensitive. There are many online sources. It is really easy to do that, and then you have a video of activity in your home in areas where the caregivers are not to roam.