Tuesday, 11 September 2012

What's yours is mine

A good acquaintance or ours has just had her trust violated. Our friend, although from an older generation than us, is still very perky and shrewd. 
Last month her husband died after a long medical problem compounded by his growing forgetfulness. Her house has been a hive of activity, nurses, cleaning lady, carer to give her respite from the Alzheimer's Society. The house at times has resembled a major railway hub with all the comings and goings.
About two weeks before her husband's death she found her diamond rings were absent from their boxes. Was she going doolally - where could she have put them? She was about to go to the police but unexpectedly came across the rings in her camera case!!! but had no recollection of having put them there. She was going to visit her husband in hospital and decided to wear a gold chain he had given her when they were engaged over 60 years ago, but that was missing, her mind was in a flurry.
On inspecting her dressing table drawers she discovered lots of gold and silver missing, and several empty boxes. 
She let everyone that came to the house know her things were missing she became suspicious of everyone who entered, in particular the carer who looked after her husband. She came once a week for three hours to allow her to have an outing. During this time she had the whole house to herself with the husband mainly dozing in his chair.  She also had worries about the cleaning lady whom she knew had financial problems.
The lady from the Alzheimer's Society phoned just before her husband's funeral to say she could not attend but would like to come and see her the following week. They fixed up a date, and our quick thinking friend said "good, I would like you to be here because the police are coming to go through the CTV tape in the bedroom and I would like some company". The phone went quiet and the lady rang off. Several minutes later a text arrived saying "it was me, I am wicked, I will confess to the police". The lady was arrested by the police on the morning of the funeral, but has only admitted to taking two items which she has sold. At the moment our friend has discovered that at least 16 items are missing, but wakes up in the night wondering if she has accounted for everything.
Today she is confronting the cleaning lady in her own inimitable style, the insurance assessor is calling and so is a representative from the Alzheimer's Society.
She told me she has not had time to grieve her husband, her mind is completely taken up with so many tasks and questions whirling around in her head.
They have no family of their own, so who would know what was in the drawers and boxes when she dies? As I said at the start her trust has been violated.
As a timely warning I would like to suggest that you photograph your precious belongings. It is very important to have a record and it is also something that can be very helpful when making a claim to your insurance company should the need ever arise.

48 comments:

  1. What a sad story, it is bad when your helpers turn against you and become enemies. Thank you for the reminder, I will do so. One day...

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    1. Dear Lise - do remember to do it, you forget what you own and it is a good reminder to yourself.

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  2. this is awful, Rosemary. I'm so sorry this has happened and cannot even fathom how people can be so heartless in a situation like your friend's.

    Since you talked about photographing your belongings, my ex-boss (at the law firm I worked at a few years ago) used to photocopy all his credit cards, identity card, driver's license, all the important documents in his wallet, so that if it was stolen, he would have the information he needed to take to the police. After that I also keep a photocopy of all the current contents of my wallet!

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    1. Sadly Roanna this is an attitude that some people think that they are entitled to do. You are sensible to keep photocopies of important documents.

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  3. Hello Rosemary:
    We are absolutely appalled to read this. That anything like this should happen is totally dreadful, that it should happen to your friend in the circumstances of the very recent death of her husband is unthinkable. We are so very sorry. Not only is it a violation of the trust which she placed in those coming to the house to assist her during a very difficult and traumatic time, but it will, alas, make her very suspicious of such help in the future.

    It is to be hoped that once all of this awful business is finally settled, she will once more have a positive view of the many voluntary agencies who do such excellent work and whose reputation is only sullied by the very few.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - I was so shocked when she told me what had happened. We had family staying and when I returned home I told my son that if ever we happened to be in a situation where we needed help then they should remove all of our valuables. My daughter-in-law said that we should have faith in people as not everyone is like that.

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  4. What a sad story, Rosemary. The worst part, possibly, is the loss of trust in fellow human beings. I hope your friend's positive nature will help her regain some pleasure & purpose in her life.

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    1. Thanks Nilly - she is a very positive person and I am sure will bounce back from what has happened.

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  5. What an emotional story Rosemary. How could somebody do this to other's
    Have a great evening.

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    1. Dear Marijke - it is especially upsetting when the couple concerned were going through a difficult time anyway.

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  6. How terrible that your friend was taken advantage of at that stressful time, but of course that situation provides the greatest opportunity for thieves. When there are lots of strangers about, valuables should be locked up, preferably in a safe-deposit box. Although one doesn't want to place too high a concern on material objects, nevertheless these things do matter and can add to the stress and worry during an illness.

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    1. It is the thought that someone would do this to you in your own home when they were left in a position of trust that is very upsetting. Time will be a healer.

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  7. How awful for your poor friend my heart goes out to her, for all of that to be going on when her husband was so ill. My Dad had carers in during the last couple of years of his life and they were so good to him.
    Sarah x

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    1. It is so good to hear a positive story Sarah, it does make you feel concerned about your own future.

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  8. Dear Rosemary, What a terrible thing to happen to your dear friend.
    It is not the first time, that i have heard stories like this.
    What an awful woman from the Alzheimer society.. i hope she gets the sack.. she should not be working with those poor people.
    My dear friend in South Africa. Inherited from an Aunt in Holland 2 years ago. Plus a very special painting of one of the Dutch masters..an original.. A man from the church..started visiting the aunt. Only after she died, did they find out, that he had made her change her will.. She had advanced Alzheimers. My friend has already had to pay so much money to the lawyeers, and she is still fighting it.
    I agree with you 100%. We must take note of all we have and keep it safe. Isn't it just awful.. at the last hour, we really do need people we can trust.

    val

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    1. Dear Val - she was apparently sacked from the Alzheimer's Society on suspicion of taking money from someone else, but there was no concrete evidence for the Society to take the matter to the police. She was only caught out by our friend because she pretended that she had CTV cameras hidden in her bedroom and then she confessed.
      You are right we do need to know that people who help when we are older should be trustworthy.

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  9. Dear Rosemary,

    That's quite a cautionary tale! One great way to catalogue the contents of your house is to take a videotape tour.

    I had my wallet stolen on a trip, and it took approximately three months to rebuild it. So besides photocopying the contents of a wallet, I would also advise to write on the back of credit cards, "Ask for I.D."

    Your friend is certainly a quick thinker — I hope she can put all this behind her very soon.

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    1. That is an excellent idea Mark - I can do HD movie on my camera. It would be possible to quickly go round a room taking in the pictures, objects and furniture etc and then store it on the computer.
      I thought that she was very quick thinking, I would never ever have thought to do what she did, but it worked straight away.
      I expect it will be a while before it is all put to bed, a court case must be on the cards at some stage. She is a strong person and will be able to put it behind her eventually.

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  10. Dear Rosemary, I am so glad that you shared this very sad story with us. It will remind all of us to be more careful. Your friend did exactly what she had to do and how clever of her. I have not thought of taking photographs of credit cards but what a good idea.
    I'm glad that your friend has you to give her support in this difficult period of her life.

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    1. Dear Gina - we are all so busy photographing our flowers etc, but it is just as easy to photograph our precious things so that we do have a proper record of them.
      She is a strong lady, especially for her age, and will come through it.

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  11. What a terrible thing to happen to your friend Rosemary. What an alert reaction she had though. Good for her! She sounds like a brave lady. I hope she will find peace again soon and things will settle down for her.
    Marian

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    1. I think she has a few more hurdles to jump before the whole truth is known but hopefully in time it will all be put behind her.

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  12. That is terrible Rosemary. I have copied the credit cards and such but even though I take photos every day I have not photographed my jewelry. Must do that.

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    1. Dear Olive - it is so easy for us to photograph our precious things today now we all have digital cameras. I shall set aside some time to do my own - practise what I preach.

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  13. How terrible for your friend. I know what it is like to have lots of people visiting to care for a husband with dementia and the stress involved but to have the stealing as well is despicable.

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    1. Dear Susan - I know that you will understand what it has been like for her and are able to empathise with the situation that she finds herself in.

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  14. Very sad... Often these jewels have a greater sentimental value than the money they are ultimately sold for. I'm happy your friend has the energy to fight back, at least some justice has been won. I'd never even thought to photograph my jewellery but will certainly do it now!

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    1. You are right Rosemary - one of the things was a very heavy gold chain bracelet bought for her 21st by her parents - not fashionable today, but of great sentimental value - it would have been sold simply for the weight of the gold.
      As I mentioned to Olive I am going to set aside some time to go through my things, is is so easy to do with our digital cameras. This has been a timely warning to me.

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  15. Such a terrible story - I know this happens as things were stolen from my in-laws when they were both ill and having help at home. My mother-in-law's engagement ring went, which was especially sad , as neither of her daughters were able to inherit and cherish this precious memento of their mother.
    x

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    1. Dear Alix - this makes me think about the Antique Roadshow programme. So often people turn up with a very valuable object or jewellery, and when asked where it came from the people say "my mother was given it by an old lady or gent that she worked for" - I do sometimes wonder!!!

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  16. Hi just found your lovely blog, what sad story that poor lady as if she didn't have enough to worry about.

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    1. Thanks, pleased that you called, do come again. It is not always doom and gloom here.

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  17. How sad for your friend, and how depressing. I suppose the "happy" ending is that the truth was discovered, but I'm sure it doesn't feel much like a happy ending. J.

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    1. Dear Janice - I hope her trust has not been removed altogether. Although she is strong, she is quite old and alone, and will probably need help herself in the future. One of the things she feels is that her sentimental memories have also been taken from her.

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  18. Dear Rosemary,
    this is really sad for your friend, and indeed for all of us. I often think how life will turn out to be when we are old and so much depented on other people and their honesty.

    I hope things are over now and she can use the time she needs to grieve.

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    1. Dear Demie - when we are young old age is a far, far distant land. The older we get the more the horizon shows us it face, and you are right we need people that we can trust at that stage in our lives.

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  19. Rosemary, the betrayal of trust is always a dreadful thing, but here it is compounded by the sadness of your friend's situation and her vulnerability. I do hope that more of her treasures come to light and that she can learn to trust again.

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    1. It is a dreadful betrayal of trust, but I suspect that everything has been sold and she will not see any of her jewels again. She has already resigned herself to that fact.

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  20. My 92-year-old doesn’t want let any stranger into house for her help because she experienced the same thing when she was younger, though damage was small. That’s why I’ve been commuting to my mother to help her around regularly.

    Several years ago, my house was broken into by a robber... fortunately when I was out. Some of my jewels were stolen. I miss the rings my deceased father presented me on my coming-of-age and before marriage... they are priceless as my father's memory. Insurance company asked certificates or other proofs. After that incident, I took picture of precious things as your suggestion. The robber was arrested but what were stolen never returned. However, I think my experiment is much better than the lady’s experience, betrayal by someone she has trusted. What a torment to her when she is supposed to grieve her husband! I think I know why you posted this. With best wishes to your friend.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - you are a very good daughter to your old mother, but I am sure that sometimes it must place a big strain on you. I do not know how long the commute is for you, but I expect that your mother appreciates your help. Old age is an increasing and growing concern around the world.
      I am sorry that you had such an awful experience. To be robbed must severely undermine your confidence and sense of security, and also to have lost precious mementoes from your father.
      I appreciate your kind wishes which I will pass on to my friend.
      The reason I posted this was because I think that it is important for us all to be very aware of what is happening around us, and to encourage the photographing your precious bits and pieces which can easily be achieved with our digital cameras.

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    2. Thank you, rosemary, for the kind words. I need to add explanation. My mother lives next to my younger brother. He works in the daytime, and we can’t depend whole on his wife, so my sister and I take turn seeing mother to help her independence once or twice a week. She can manage to take care of herself for the basics. It takes about 4 hours for round trips, but there are direct trains. Yes, elder care is a serious concern, we look over our parents thinking what we will do when we are very old.

      My place is a nice, quiet residential area and my house is just one of ordinary houses. I recommend you to hide your valuables in a secret place. Our valuables in the secret place were safe. Incidentally, we installed impact-resistant insulating-windowpanes after that incident. Robbers want to break into within 5 minutes, if not possible they give up. I agree with you that awareness of what happening around us is important.

      Yoko

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    3. Dear Yoko - first of all I would like to thank you on behalf of my friend for your best wishes which she appreciated very much.
      I did not imagine that you had such a long trip in order to help your mother, that is very stressful for both yourself and your sister. The future for all of us is a worry, lets hope for the best outcome. I would not like to put my own children through the responsibility of caring for us.
      I agree that you need to make your home as secure as you can. My wish is that we shall all remain safe, happy and healthy.

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  21. What a sad story, we do indeed have a photographic record of all items, disregarding value, it is often things with least value that are the most precious. Rosemary please note I do not return to comments I make so I never see your replies. Please do not think me rude but I just do not have the time to do so and when I subscribed my email inbox just got clogged! I read too many blogs.

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    1. I will take on board what you have said, but you know I still might continue to reply♥

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    2. That is fine by me Rosemary, but I will not see your replies, jut popped back today to read your response. :)

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  22. Our friend was very touched by your warm comments of support and thanks you all very much.

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  23. What a sad and cautionary tale. I do hope she gets some if not all of her precious things back. M x

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    1. Thank you Jane, sadly it appears that everything has been sold.

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