NANAIMO — RCMP are investigating multiple thefts of jewelry from residents at a south Nanaimo seniors care facility, NanaimoNewsNOW has learned.
A letter, obtained by NanaimoNewsNOW, was sent to families of residents at Wexford Creek on July 31 informing them the facility's management was in the process of cooperating with an RCMP investigation into the unexplained loss of some resident's jewelry.
The letter, signed by site leader Sue Ball, said she would do anything possible to find out who was responsible, adding "I can imagine that these events have not been at all reassuring to those involved."
It said all staff at Wexford Creek have a criminal record and reference check completed before beginning work.
"I can understand that these things may seem insufficient considering what is happening, but who knows what personal circumstances cause people to do things they normally would not," the letter said.
When contacted for comment, Ball declined, saying the case was in the hands of RCMP and Wexford Creek would cooperate fully with the investigation.
It's unclear how many residents were victimized or the value of the jewelry taken. A source with knowledge of the situation indicated the thefts totalled more than $10,000.
Nanaimo RCMP confirmed they have three active files, one from April and two from July, into thefts from a single Nanaimo care facility. RCMP would not share any further information on the case.
A family member of a resident, who did not wish to be identified, told NanaimoNewsNOW their mother's ring went missing in late June.
The person initially hoped the ring was simply lost or misplaced, noting their mother suffers from dementia. However, when the letter arrived, that optimism faded.
The family member said their mother never takes the ring off, noting its shape made it very difficult to remove from her finger. They said it was custom made from her parent's wedding rings and had huge sentimental value.
"She sat down and cried about it...She knew it was missing and literally had tears running down her face thinking this was the last thing she had to remember her parents."
The person visited the care home on Monday and was told management was inundated with calls from concerned families. As of Tuesday, the person said a call to Ball had gone unreturned for five days.
"You like to believe and trust and have faith in people that they'll respect those residents and not go after these vulnerable seniors, many of them with dementia. They should be able to keep valuables and one shouldn't have to worry someone will take it off their hand...I can't be there 24/7 so you still have to trust them."
The resident's family member said it's hopefully a wake-up call for management around hiring practices and security measures.
"You hope the awareness to it makes everyone else think twice."
Wexford Creek is operated independently by Park Place Seniors Living and is publicly subsidized by Island Health.
In a statement, Island Health said the safety and well-being of people in care is the number one priority.
"Island Health is always concerned to learn about any criminal allegation at a publicly subsidized care facility. Our licensing branch investigates every complaint about care and, if criminal allegations are made, we cooperate fully with any police investigation."
On Twitter: @domabassi
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