In terms of technological advancements, hidden cameras are a topic that is certainly not without controversy – much of which has been entirely deserved. It is now possible to purchase a device that can covertly record full HD video from nearly any location – an understandable cause for alarm. However, it’s important to remember all of the legitimate benefits that these advancements bring with them, too. Case in point: hidden cameras were recently used to catch a home health care aide in the act who was stealing painkillers and other medications from the elderly patient she was supposed to be caring for.
To Catch a Thief
Hugh Craton had been paying someone to watch after his 81-year-old mother in Burlington County for the last several years. In an effort to help her hold onto as much of her independence as possible, Hugh had resisted the urge to place her into a nursing home or other outside facility. Instead, he was paying a health care aide to come to the home a few days a week and watch after her while he was at work.
Then, Hugh’s worst nightmare became a reality. Certain personal items were going missing. There seemed to be money discrepancies that couldn’t be explained. Hugh suspected that one of the rotating health care aides was stealing from his mother, so he installed a hidden camera in her bedroom.
What he saw when he reviewed the footage was shocking, to say the least. Hugh admits that he was just expecting to see someone taking his mother’s money, but when he saw the aide stealing her prescription painkiller medication, too, his jaw hit the floor.
Just one day after the camera had been installed, Craton had crystal-clear footage of the aide reaching into a drawer and stealing cash and painkillers. He immediately took his video evidence to the police, who arrested the aide – 40-year-old Leanne Tucker of Williamstown – on charges of theft.
Police indicated that the agency that placed the woman inside Craton’s mother’s home – the Right at Home Agency of Cherry Hill – were cooperating with their investigation. A spokesperson for the agency said that client safety is always one of their top priorities and also noted that they ran a state-required background check on Leanne Tucker before placement and she “came back clean.”
This particular case comes just as the state division of Consumer Affairs is rolling out a “Safe Care Cam” program across the area. Consumer Affairs will lend out “nanny cameras” for individuals in these types of situations free of charge. In addition to being used in private residences, the program will lend out cameras for people to use in nursing homes and private care facilities as well.
Elder Abuse in the United States
Elder abuse situations like these are unfortunately a common problem in the United States, particularly due to the fact that people over the age of 60 are among the most vulnerable in our society. According to NCOA.org, it is estimated that roughly one in 10 Americans aged 60+ has experienced some form of elder abuse – with theft being a very common occurrence.
Many studies estimate that as many as five million elderly people are abused each year, with only about one in every 14 cases being reported to the proper authorities. Social isolation and mental impairment are both major contributing factors.
Luckily, hidden camera technology has evolved to the point where it is now easier than ever for family members to keep a close eye on their loved ones for a few hundred dollars or less. With a camera that connects to a home network and streams live footage over a private Internet connection, someone can check in on their elderly relative from literally any Web browser or mobile device on Earth. While this won’t necessarily stop the problem entirely, it will go a long way towards keeping our elderly relatives as safe as possible at all times.