Eleven years ago in a upscale Santa Monica home 77-year-old Susie Spector was thrown down a staircase four times and beaten until the burglar thought she was dead.
The burglar was posing as a caregiver. Susie lived to identify the 24-year-old woman burglar and see her go to prison for life with the possibility of parole. (I will have more about this case later) Now Susie has been ripped off again. A man working in her home as a dog walker and trusted caregiver has run up thousands of dollars on her credit card and she says he stole $5,000 in antique jewelry. Susie is still recovering from her injuries suffered 11 years ago when the burglar beat her.
She says she suffered some brain damage and it makes it difficult for her to walk. The burglar beat her in the head with a weight from a grandfather clock. Before the burglary Susie was a wholesale jeweler and businesswoman. Susie says when she reported to police that the trusted caregiver had taken the credit card and the jewelry she was surprised that the Santa Monica Police Detective did not take the crime that seriously. She thinks it’s because she is a Senior Citizen. She called me, the Troubleshooter, to help her.
I contacted the detective working the case at the Santa Monica Police Department and he had several excuses why they had not taken any action a week after the reported crime. The detective proudly pointed out that they caught the burglar who had almost beaten her to death years before and he questioned this reported crime. He said it is just her word against the caregiver. I pointed out that the caregiver had already used her credit card to buy computer equipment and other items without her permission. That would seem to hurt the caregiver’s creditability.
The detective did send an officer to her home again to get an expanded police report on the jewelry. The first police report lacked information. Susie gave the police the name of the caregiver, his address, his description, the type of car he drove, and the car’s plate number. She canceled the credit card in the caregiver’s name before the he used it at about a half-dozen stores running up a bill of about $3,000. The credit card company said they missed it as being canceled because the card had the same number as her card number but the caregiver’s name. They want her to pay for the charges.
Almost a week later the Santa Monica Reserve Detective who works elder abuse crimes still did not have the report on the crime against Susie. Remember the police knew where the alleged thief lived and he was still there. How do I know that, because almost two weeks later I saw him at the home of another elderly woman where he rents a room. He talked with me. Two weeks after the crime report was made and two major electronics stores were ripped off by his use of the canceled credit card, there still was no arrest warrant issued. I called the detective again and he said he needed a description of the man.
I have a copy of the police report and there is a description of the man and his home address, his phone number and his Canadian Identification Number. His height, weight, and color of eyes were missing. I asked the Detective Supervisor at the Santa Monica Police Department why it is taking so long, and his answer was they had a heavy case load and they were working on it.
The caregiver who allegedly ripped off Susie indicated to me that he is illegally in this country from Canada on a visa that he over stayed. His red Jeep Cherokee still has Alberta Canada plates after it has been in California more than six months. Susie says he brags that he is a day trader on the stock market and does not pay U.S. taxes. He confirms that he has the computer he bought on the canceled credit card, and he plans to keep it and all the equipment he bought to go with it. The police’s new excuse was that the man would now flee since I tracked him down and talked to him.
After more calls from me the police arrested the man right where I told them he would be at his home. It took them 14 days from the first police report to talk to him and then arrest him. He is now jailed on the jewelry theft charge. But he was not charged with fraud for the use of the credit card that had been canceled before he used it.
Look at it this way; do you think it would have taken 14 days to talk to alleged thief if the victim was the elderly mother of the Police Chief? I think not!
Here’s what happened in the first case where the thief thought she had killed Susie back in September of 1990. Susie was looking for a person to work in her home. She was interviewing a 24-year old college student named June Lee, who had excellent reverences. She had scheduled the interview when her part time housekeeper would be there. But the housekeeper had to leave, and Susie was left alone with the college student applicant. The woman, a student athlete soccer player, turned into a Dr. Jeckle and Ms. Hyde. She pulled a gun and told Susie that she was taking all the valuables from her home and she was going to kill her. Susie says she dragged her up the stairs and then pushed her down the flight of stairs. She did this four times.
Susie had a broken leg, broken arm and many other injuries. When Susie would not die, she hit her in the head with a heavy grandfather clock. Susie says she lay in the stairwell bleeding from her head for several hours playing dead. She says the woman would come by and slap her in the face to see if she was still alive. Susie says the woman left at about 4 am. June Lee, 24, was convicted of first-degree attempted murder. She admitted in court that she thought Susie was dead. She is still in prison. Susie has testified against Lee’s release at two parole hearings. Lee’s next parole hearing was in 2003. Susie fears June Lee will kill her if she gets out of prison on parole. Last check, Susie is living in a different city and was safe.
This is just one of thousands of cases where elderly persons have had to push the police to move forward on their elderly financial abuse cases.