‘Opportunistic’ thief steals from elderly
A cleaner at the Palms Retirement Village made off with close to $30,000 worth of goods after stealing from the aged. 
The young woman who was employed as a cleaner from February to April, abused the trust she was given by staff and the residents at the Palms. 
While the 20 year old has been charged and has appeared in court, residents' families are frustrated with the lack of communication.
A letter was sent to family members with Power of Attorney stating that there had been bank card thefts, and with Heritage LifeCare, who operate the Retirement Village and Hospital, urging residents not to leave their pin numbers on the outside of their cards.
 
However, one source says that her family member did not do this to her cards, and still had money and other items stolen. 
Operations manager for Heritage LifeCare, Pam Joll, confirms there was an issue with thefts. 
"These occurred over a short period of time. Thanks to the assistance of the staff, we were able to find out what was happening.
"We have looked into it further and given information to residents and their families about the importance of keeping their belongings safe."
Pam says, "This staff member had gone through the Police vetting process, but had no former record."
"She was dismissed quite quickly. We believe it was opportunistic." 
A daughter of a Palms' resident was alerted that Police had possession of her mother's visa debit and seniors card, and that they had been stolen from the facility where her mother resides. 
"Another family noticed funds coming out of their relative's account," she says. 
The woman also stole jewellery, watches and cards including senior citizen cards from the residents. 
While there has been some luck returning the cards to their owners, Police are in possession of jewellery and other belongings that have been harder to give back to their owners. 
Pam says, "We do everything we can to keep our residents' belongings safe and keep them safe.
"It has been an isolated incident. Police were involved and we addressed the issues with the families. We want the Palms to be a friendly home for people." 
The woman who stole the items has also stolen from local businesses in Pukekohe.  She will be returning to Pukekohe District Court on Wednesday 28 June to face a number of new charges. 
Police always encourage people to check on their elderly family members.
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