Stop #@$%!* Thief!!!

  1. This is one of the big headaches they never tell you about when you become a manager in a healthcare facility--what to do when residents' money and valuables go missing, and you come to the realization that SOMEONE on your staff is a lying sack of garbage.

    Every workplace has its marginal employees, the workers who live on the edge both financially and morally, as well as those who work their 8 hours as if they were flipping burgers instead of taking care of human beings. Fortunately, my assisted living facility has been blessed with an unusually large majority of long-termers---caregivers who have been with us for two, three, even four years---and each member of that core staff is a loving, caring, compassionate person who loves our residents as though they were family.

    So now we have a real-life mystery on our hands: Over the past couple of months, we've had a rash of thefts---mostly of cash, but also some jewelry. Even more alarming, it's escalating---one resident has had her checkbook plus $100 in cash taken in the past week, another is missing his wallet and the $140 he had in bills, and still two more had between thirty and fifty dollars missing from their purses earlier this week. What REALLY chaps my hide is the fact that the only people being robbed are those with moderate to severe memory loss: in other words, someone is taking advantage of them BECAUSE they could conceivably lose a wad of money between the front door and the bathroom without being aware of it, and have indeed done so on more than one occasion.:angryfire :angryfire :angryfire

    My boss and I have a couple of suspects in mind. Of course, now that we have to involve the police, all of us are going to be considered suspects, but I'm too outraged to care---I just want it to STOP. I cannot stand people who victimize those that can't take care of themselves, and it kills my soul to think that someone I know and I work with---maybe someone I myself hired---could do such a thing.

    This is one of those situations no one ever teaches you how to deal with, and it didn't help that my own spouse was one of the first people the residents wanted to blame (he's the maintenance man/housekeeper) when all this started. I think they know better now---the man wouldn't pocket a penny that didn't belong to him---but then, who IS the guilty party?? My trust is gone, I'm suspicious of everyone..........I hate looking around at my staff and wondering which of them could possibly be rotten enough to steal from dementia patients.

    Thanks for letting me rant. I'm just confused and angry, and I'm ready to line everybody up and use some good old-fashioned parenting tricks to force the miscreant to 'fess up so I can FIRE their thievin' butt.:trout:
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    About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN Guide

    Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 26,938; Likes: 44,612
    RN and blogger extraordinaire; from OR , US
    Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych

    46 Comments

  3. by   chuchie
    It's okay to be upset. People that steal from those who are in such sickness are scum of the earth. My mother always wore the same pair of diamond stud earings every day that she got from her husband on their first anniversary. She had suffered a massive stroke and was in a coma for a few weeks. Nonetheless her earings were gone and it broke her heart. I hate people that do this and I totally understand your feelings of outrage.
  4. by   mich_01085
    Are you ready for this?? I had $100 stolen from my purse, it was locked in the Med Room, the only keys were with me and my partner. She denies taking the money, but..... I guess trust is something you lose really fast. Now I watch everyone with my stuff as well as my patients!:angryfire
  5. by   TazziRN
    A former coworker had several hundred dollars stolen from her purse while it was under the desk in the old hospital. The nurses' desk was out in the hallway, shared with the x-ray people. An ambulance brought a pt in and when the crew was gone my friend realized money was missing. There was a video camera trained on the area and the paramedic was caught on film going through her purse. Nothing was done. The medic lost his job but was not made to pay the money back, and his excuse was that because he was going to PA school and had a lot of bills, he just "lost his mind". He finished school and is now working as a PA. No repercussions. My friend was talked out of pressing charges by the nurse manager at the time.
  6. by   meownsmile
    Sorry you are having those problems. It is a real PIA to have this stuff go on. We had an employee who after the fact we found had stolen at 2 other places of employment and after being caught there was told if they left and paid the money back they wouldnt be prosecuted. Luck wasnt on their side the last time, however it did take some time and money from the person they stole from to get it prosecuted in the way of wages and time/travel to court.
    However, it was probly worth it to know that this person wont ever be hired again in the health care setting with that on their record.
    I hope you find out who it was and will prosecute them to the fullest.
  7. by   LeahJet
    Quote from mich_01085
    Are you ready for this?? I had $100 stolen from my purse, it was locked in the Med Room, the only keys were with me and my partner. She denies taking the money, but..... I guess trust is something you lose really fast. Now I watch everyone with my stuff as well as my patients!:angryfire
    Just a thought, but does Pharmacy have keys also?
  8. by   BSNtobe2009
    Maybe I'm negative, but when someone steals money, and other valuables, I don't think they are doing it for the light bill, they are doing it for money to buy drugs. People in the medical profession are in unique positions, especially in hospitals, can usually work overtime if they need extra money on a regular basis, do home health on the side part-time, private nursing, etc.

    When it's resident's in a nursing home, that's one thing, but staff at a hospital needs to be told not to bring money or anything else to the hospital that would be a major problem if the whole thing got stolen.

    I am a huge advocate for regular drug tests for employees in a hospital, and I would never say that unless I would be willing to submit to them myself.
  9. by   BSNtobe2009
    If it were me, $50? I would let it go, several hundred? I would probably would have told the nurse manager that if the medic paid the money back within a couple of days, there wouldn't be any charges. But no money, no deal. That is ALOT of money.
  10. by   canoehead
    this is where cameras in rooms would be useful. Tell your staff at the next meeting that this is reflecting badly on everyone, and they may be on tape at any time. Then ask some families and residents to assist you. You can probably narrow down your suspects based on shift worked, and assignment, then you judiciously place the cameras and nail them down.
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    Take a look too any any patient's who hoard things......never believe my honest Abe Grandpa was one stealing other's eye glasses and pocketing them along with stuffing clothes in drawers that didn't belong to him when he was in advanced stage of Alzheimers.

    The comedy routine I went through exchanging my eyeglassess for his so I could get the other 4 pairs out of his chest pocket was priceless ....
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Oct 27, '06
  12. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I don't think they are doing it for the light bill, they are doing it for money to buy drugs.
    Some people just steal just to see if they can get away with it.
  13. by   chelli73
    At the last facility I worked at, I made the mistake of leaving a very expensive (to me anyway--$30) book in the desk at the nurse station where the ward clerks sit. It was gone by the time I came back from 2 days off. I even had my last name written on the side pages of the book. Never saw it again but never left another item again. Stealing is very sad and pathetic to me. Yet it is more common than you think in healthcare facilities especially, sad.
  14. by   mamason
    Very sad situation here. I hope that it isn't a staff memeber helping themselves to resident's belongings. NRSKarenRN brings up a good point though. Could be another resident who isn't thinking clearly.

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