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Nursing home bandits strike Asbury Park

The Newton Kansan - 2/4/2019

Feb. 01--When Laura Voegeli joined Asbury Park in Newton she didn't believe she would be a victim in a multi-state crime investigation -- but she is.

"My impression of Newton was this could not happen, this is small town America," Voegeli said. "But it gets big."

Voegeli said she, and one of her coworkers, did not give much thought to a pair of women dressed in hospital scrubs.

"My coworker asked hello and how their day was going," Voegeli said. ".... These are two very well put together folks who I could very well have believed were interviewing for a position here."

She told the Kansan that her wallet was taken out of her purse, and the wallet of a coworker was taken from an office. The thieves used her credit card to make purchases at Walmart.

The two that were pictured in the Smith County (Facebook) post walked right by my coworker and I," Voegeli said. "The description we gave to the police matched camera footage from fraudulent charges at Walmart. We are pretty certain."

On Jan. 29, the Smith County Sheriff's Department posted to their Facebook page photos of the accused -- the two women had hit nursing homes in Russell and Wilson after hitting two nursing homes in Oklahoma. In one of those thefts, the accused allegedly charged more than $7,000 to credit cards taken from a nursing home.

Asbury Park is taking new and extra precautions to prevent something like this happening in the future. Voegeli said the nursing home is considering security cameras, and she sent an email to staff with some other precautionary measures.

Those include making sure staff is familiar with each other, hospice volunteers, vendors and others; to be sure staff is wearing nametag identifications

"Don't be afraid to ask those without a name badge to check in at the front desk, or escort them to a supervisor. I'm sure if they are criminals they will start running by that time," Voegeli said. "Call 911 immediately following something. I asked our staff to be on alert for anyone that looks out of place, unfamiliar or does not have a purpose for being here. A lot of our nursing areas are secured, and they have to ring doorbells to get to our residents a lot of times."

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(c)2019 The Newton Kansan, Kan.

Visit The Newton Kansan, Kan. at www.thekansan.com

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