Police are trying to find a woman who they say may be been impersonating a nurse to gain access to assisted living facilities in South Charlotte.
“She’s posing as a nurse with a lab coat or nurses scrubs, coming in, sneaking through the door, getting upstairs. Usually during lunch when the elderly folks have gone downstairs and they have left their doors unlocked,” said Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, lead investigator Steve Whitesel.
She has been wearing clothing indicative of the same type as health care professional’s like nurses to otherwise gain access to assisted living facilities to steal from residents, taking jewelry, cash, and credit cards. The string of thefts began around the middle of last month, and happen very quickly when residents are eating lunch. To look at her, it would appear she is a “nurse” or doctor, because she is wearing hospital scrubs and lab coat. She also comes in fast, talking on a phone. Out of politeness and respect she goes unchallenged in most cases. No one thinks to ask her where she is going or what her business is.
The woman has targeted Sharon Towers, a continuing care retirement community in Charlotte, N.C. that offer independent living, assisted living and skilled-nursing care. Sharon Towers has over 200 independent living accommodations including apartments and cottages. Their website indicates Sharon Towers has approximently 360 residents (source: http://www.sharontowers.org/). Police said the suspect has targeted Cypress, Sunrise and possibly Carmel Place, which all are assisted living facilities in Charlotte, N.C.
The difficulty is that these facilities are “open” to the public, with numerous people coming and going all the time. That makes it very easy for someone in disguise to slip in and out. She also doesn’t fit the profile of a “suspicious character”.
In the one case where the woman was actually confronted in a room, she said “I heard you fell. I’m here to help you,” according to one report. So she is quick with an excuse. This makes her particularly dangerous say police.
Your best defense is to be vigilant and careful. Residents are advised to lock their room, when leaving their apartment to go to lunch, take out the trash or check the mailbox.
Many people in the community are asking if security at assisted care facilities need to be increased, something that these assisted facilities are apprehensive to admit because of liability concerns. You also have the question of increased costs to the facility themselves, which would be passed along to the residents – making the cost to live at their facilities go up. So many are leaving it up to police to deal with it.
Police however need your help in locating this woman. She has been able to defeat perimeter security such as gates, simply by being a “good actress” according to Channel 36 news report. If you can help Police determine who the suspect is please call the South Division and ask for investigator Whitesel at 704-544-4835 or crime stoppers at 704-334-1600. Or visit CMPD website address @ http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/Pages/default.aspx