How to stop Thieves in a nursing home

By using various anti-theft measures, you can outsmart Thieves from stealing your parents valuables.


Some Tips:

  1.  Keep valuables at home
  2. Lock box
  3. Tracking measures
  4. Banking system in facility
  5. Substitute expensive jewelry for knock-offs
  6.  Bring in small containers of lotions and perfumes
  7. Don’t expect your parents to understand how understand peoples intent like they used to.
  8. Video cameras

This is a story, written by permission, of a woman I once cared for in a home based situation.  If this information would have been available to her family when she was admitted into a nursing home it would have saved them a lot of trouble.  It is possible to outsmart thieves in nursing homes.  This is a topic we will provide more than one article on.  Here is Emma’s story.

The Orphan

Emma was born in 1925.  She lived in an orphanage in Chaska, MN.  There is a plantation on Highway 41 close to the Flying Cloud Airport. When Emma was six, she was sent to live in the plantation every year until she turned 18.  The orphanage routinely farmed out the children to earn income.  Emma lived on a plantation with approximately 100 other children.  The orphanage built cinder block one room buildings, where children slept on cots lined up 20 to a hut.  At 5 a.m. the children were lined up and fed, before beginning a long day of work.  They worked from sun up to sundown.  They each had the same quota, whether very young or an older teenager.  If a child didn’t meet that quota, they would not be fed the next day.

Emma recalled when the measles ravaged the camp one year.  She said being sick didn’t mean you could get out of work.  You just worked sick.  She remembered children who died on their cots, overworked and exhausted.  The children’s bodies were just taken away, and Emma never saw them again.

The children working on the plantation weren’t given new clothes, and they didn’t have shoes, as they were constantly walking in the mud of the plantation.  The huts were very hot in summer and very cold in spring and fall.  There was no time to be a child.


Upon becoming 18, Emma was turned loose into society.  She got a job in a dairy.  That is where she met her husband, Albert.  One day he proposed.  When they were married, he gave her the best ring he could afford, and she cherished it.  She stared at it for hours, hardly able to believe anything as lovely belonged on her finger.

They worked hard, saved and eventually bought the dairy.  In those days’ milk was delivered to your doorstep because of lack of refrigeration.  But as the years passed, the supermarkets took away the need for door to door milk distribution.   Emma and Albert had purchased a home in downtown Chaska, and raised four children.

The Ring

Emma and her ring were the source of pride in the family.  She displayed it prominently in every photograph.  Carefully taking it to the jeweler to be cleaned every year.  The ring was more than a symbol of the love between her and Albert, but also that she was free from hard labor.  It was her symbol of emancipation.

It was late in 2001 when Albert took sick and died.  As time went on the family noticed Emma forgot things, such as where the grocery store was, and even their names.  She had also become unsteady when she walked.  The family finally admitted Emma into a local nursing home.  Her forgetfulness increased until she forgot her beloved Albert even existed.

The Nurse

One day a traveling nurse gave Emma an extra dose of her evening painkiller, and while Emma slept, the nurse removed Emma’s wedding ring.  The nurse pawned her ring in a neighboring city.  When Emma awoke the next morning, she didn’t remember she even had a ring.  It was her children who discovered it was gone and called authorities.  Thankfully the ring was found and returned.


Emma’s family could have read the mandatory staff log and know if there was a history of PRN nurses.  If a facility cannot keep enough regular staff, it could be a sign that staff are refusing to stay at the facility for any number of reasons.  But, it could be a starting point for dialogue with the staff before something like this happens.  At least it would have given them a heads up.

In every facility there is a log that should be prominently posted, in plain sight, telling everyone the staffing for each unit and each shift.  That way from day to day you can see if there are problems with a anticancer unit or shift and their staffing.  If you do not see this information, be sure to ask where it is displayed, and be diligent in looking at the current day but also at the previous week.  Keep a log of the different staff, that way you will know if there are people who are not regular employees.  That way you will be able to ask staff about them.

Hired staff and PRN staff, (staff from an agency) are held to different standards.  You also have the right to refuse a specific person to care for your parents.  It is your right to refuse to have agency or PRN nurses to care for them, and they need to comply to your wishes, unless it is  impossible.

Is it safe to leave valuables with a patient in a facility?  The short answer is no.  However, it would be terrible to remove a highly sentimental wedding ring.  However, once a person is so senile, they don’t remember it’s significance, you might want to consider replacing it with a nice one, that is less expensive.

Expensive items are very tempting to some workers.  You never know who it is who lacks the morals to keep their hands off them.  Things can also be lost in the laundry, or mistakenly taken by a roommate who thinks the item is theirs.  Caution is the key word.  Make sure things are locked up, and that your parents not only know how to access them, but that the key is secure and staff can’t just pick it off the bedside table.

Money is a problem, as it can vanish quickly without a trace.  Use the facility banking system for resident’s, it is your best bet.  That way if they want to buy something from the gift shop or some candy or a magazine, or pay for a newspaper subscription they have the ability to use their own money.  There is a little hassle to this process, but it keeps the finances securely in their control.

When you visit you might ask them if some one on staff is has repeatedly told them their birthday is coming up, or that they need money for their child’s operation.  It is a way that some staff pressure the good will of a resident to hand over money.  It happens more than you want to think.


Here at Best Nursing Home Inspections we plan on giving you information and insights to the good things and also the problems that people face in a nursing home.


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