Muskoka To-DAILY

Granite Ridge gives in to residents’ wishes for security cameras after more than a dozen thefts by ‘low life’ from rooms of vulnerable seniors

Mark Clairmont | MUSKOKATODAILY.com

GRAVENHURST — Residents’ complaints about thefts from their rooms at the Granite Ridge Retirement home have paid off.

Melva Clarke wrote this letter to the editor about the recent rash of thefts at Granite Ridge.

Melva Clarke wrote this letter to the editor about the recent rash of thefts at Granite Ridge.

Hallway cameras monitoring the comings and goings into rooms will be installed.

Jackie Payne, director of development services, said a security company has come in and in about a month the cameras will come.

She said it will cost about $10,000 and allow them to keep the tapes a couple of weeks to “see if there is a pattern.”

“That’s the wave of the future,” she told MuskokaTODAILY.com Thursday morning.

The safety and security move follows a residents’ council meeting last month, where a couple dozen seniors confronted management, including Payne and owner Norm Smith.

They demanded action — specifically cameras.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is they haven’t figured out who over the past 18 months has been stealing money, jewelry — and even two safes from rooms.

One elderly person on the ground floor was robbed three times.

One old veteran had silver dollars stolen he was saving for his grandkids.

There have been between half a dozen and twice that number depending on resident or management estimates.

Melva Clarke shows the closet wall where her safe was ripped off last month and found laying in the backyard of Granite Ridge recently, missing $100 but luckily with her credit cards and some personal papers.

Melva Clarke shows the closet wall where her safe was ripped off last month and found laying in the backyard of Granite Ridge recently, missing $100 but luckily with her credit cards and some personal papers.

They don’t know, but they suspect an inside job.

Melva Clarke, 91, was one probably the last one.

She had her small safe ripped off the wall in her closet.

Her son, Glenn, nailed it to wall just inside the door.

You can still see the drywall screw holes. But it was easily torn off.

“You could put it in a shopping bag and walk out,” said Melva Clarke.

Her other son, Steve, a former cop, has drilled a new one into a metal plate on the back wall now.

“They’re not gonna pull that one off.”

The old one was just found a week or so in the back of the property, broken open and without the $100 bucks or so she had in it.

But fortunately, her credit cards and papers were still inside.

“When you walk in your room and look in your closet and your safe is gone, it’s quite a shock,” she says.

Clarke and her late husband Ross ran the old Red & White meat and grocery store on Mary Street in the 1960s, remembers exactly when the theft took place — Friday April 21.

She has kept a daily log since — after a fall last summer — she moved in last August in the room next door to her sister, Fern Lipiski, 92, who was also robbed of $100 over a year ago. Lipiski, a resident for two years, found an empty envelope under her bed.

They know of at least a half dozen thefts on their third floor alone.

Granite Ridge has agreed to resident calls for security cameras, which they expect to be in this summer.

Granite Ridge has agreed to resident calls for security cameras, which they expect to be in this summer.

“It’s a little aggravating,” says Lipiski.

There were five in two months, she said.

They reported the thefts just like everyone else has. And police were called in several times.

But nothing happened.

The residents felt Granite Ridge wasn’t doing enough and just telling them not to worry. They were made to feel it was their fault for not locking their doors.

They were told to lock their doors, which many — but not all — do.

But the residents say some of the thefts happened with locked doors. One person robbed even locks her door when she’s inside. Often they occurred while residents were downstairs for meals.

So their council demanded action at their regular sit-down with management.

But their call for cameras wasn’t immediately embraced — noting the high cost.

But Clarke and her sister don’t buy that. They say they pay good money to live there — just over $3,000 a month for a room and full meals and laundry service and general care.

Melva and Fern like the Granite Ridge; they say the food is fine and plentiful, they get weekly housekeeping, a nurse is always there and the residents and staff are nice.

“It looks bad for the other staff who are honest,” says Clarke, who wrote a letter to the editor (seen at the bottom of the story).

“Who would do such this,” says Steve Clarke, “to people, some of whom fought in the war?

“For some low life to come in and do this to older vulnerable people. …

Granite Ridge has 82 residents who pay between $2,900 and $4,000 per month for care. There are 100 total rooms for individiual and assisted living care.

Granite Ridge has 82 residents who pay between $2,900 and $4,000 per month for care. There are 100 total rooms for individiual and assisted living care.

“It’s scary.”

He wonders what would have happened to his mom if she had come into her room and confronted the person removing her safe. Who knows what possible threat that could have led to.

Glenn Clarke attended the council meeting and he too wasn’t sure they’d get what they wanted.

He said management seemed reluctant to “put out the expense for the cameras.”

“They were saying all the right words. They even suggested residents get their own nanny cameras. But how’s that going to help if staff bump the camera to face away?”

Payne said: “It’s always scary” when something like this happens. “It’s like a violation.” She said that after the meeting she and the management team, in consultation with owner Smith, agreed cameras are the best way to deter thieves and insure the safety and security of residents.

She said they’ll see if “there’s a pattern” to the thefts.

Payne said they considered an entry system, like an apartment, where you have to be buzzed in. But with many health professionals coming in and visitors, she said it would be hard.

Granite Ridge is more like a hotel than an apartment building.

Right now anyone can walk in and go upstairs. There is a sign-in book, which isn’t noticeable.

So any stranger can come in and go door-to-door checking for unlocked rooms.

And while she expects cameras will cut down on the crime, she cautions that it’s not the perfect solution.

The cameras won’t show in the rooms, just the hallways. So they will just show who was going in rooms at different times — not what goes on once residents, guests or visitors enter.

And you can’t say for sure if someone went in they stole anything. You still have to prove that.

Meanwhile they still hope to catch whoever did the other thefts. But as for remuneration or a return of goods that won’t happen unless they get a convicition.

Payne admits it’s possible the thefts may have been the “inside job” some residents believe.

“It still could be. We haven’t ruled out anything,” she said. “We’re still investigating.”

She believes at least one of the thefts was related to thefts at their other facilities in Orillia at the Champlain Manor and Berchmere Residence.

She said “hopefully this will deter some people.”

She said Granite Ridge has 82 of the 100 rooms full on the four floors of independent and assisted living, for which resident pay between $2,900 and $4,000 per month depending on level of care.

She said the video security camera tapes will be kept on file.

Melva Clarke's letter to the editor.

Melva Clarke’s letter to the editor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short URL: http://www.muskokatodaily.com/?p=27791

Posted by on Jun 8 2017. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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