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Home-care worker investigated after items go missing

Jul 05 2012

Saanich police are advising the public to be careful choosing home-care workers for loved ones after a series of complaints involving theft.

A five-month investigation began in January after $450 went missing from an elderly woman’s drawer, which only the family and a care worker had access to. That led to an officer discovering a “disturbing trend” of eight incidents with ties to the same worker, said Saanich Police Sgt. Dean Jantzen.

All of the incidents involved clients in poor health or suffering from dementia. Their conditions made the investigation more difficult for police, Jantzen said.

“It does appear that these specific victims were targeted,” he said.

Police noted that the 44-year-old worker had been hired privately on several of the occasions in question, not through a reputable service.

Jantzen said the woman made some inconsistent statements when questioned by police and turned down a request to take a polygraph test, but there was not enough evidence to charge her.

He said police know she is still working in the region, offering both care and cleaning for clients.

Jantzen recommends hiring home-care workers through a known agency or asking for a criminal-record check.

“There are ways that you can at least verify the person coming into your family member’s home is who they say they are and has no past issues,” he said.

“Beware of who you’re hiring to come into your loved one’s home.”

Locking up valuables is also advised, he said.

“Remove items and place them in a safety-deposit box for safekeeping.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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