I came across this story on a Tulsa Oklahoma television station website about a remarkably simple way for people to steal from assisted living residents. What's scary about this story is that it is likely that just about every independent living or assisted living community is extremely vulnerable.
Twenty-two-year-old Rebecca Fennell would go into a senior living community during busy times (meal times) and walk down a corridor knocking on doors. If someone responded to the knock she would move on to the next door.
If no one responded, she would try opening the door. If the door was open and the apartment resident was not home, she would go in and help herself to whatever valuables she could find.
She would take her stolen items back to her boyfriend Tucker Sewell, who would then sell property. Items taken include cash, jewelry, cell phones, and credit cards. Police think the couple had been doing this for a month, hitting a number of assisted living communities before being caught.
In large part, elders move into senior living communities because it is a way to keep them safe. Mostly residents and families think about safety in terms of assistance with activities of daily living, good nutrition, activities, and assistance with medication.
On top of that, there is a reasonable assumption that senior living communities will be safe havens from criminals. Protecting against these kinds of intrusions is a very tough thing, because, while residents need to be protected, they also have the right to have visitors come and go freely. That level of freedom presents these kinds of problems.
How do you balance this protection/freedom issue in your communities? How would you protect against a situation like this?