CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) – Police cameras captured a heist inside a Coral Gables home, where an elderly woman’s valuables were taken by someone she trusted.
The resident invited a massage therapist into her home to provide her the service of getting a massage. Little did she know, while she was lying down on the table facing away, the masseuse was stealing jewelry out of her home.
“The problem was that she was being massaged and she was looking away from where her valuables were,” said Coral Gables Police Sgt. Alex Escobar.
More than $1,000 worth of jewelry have been stolen from an unsuspecting woman, but this isn’t a typical shakedown. It’s a massage gone bad.
Coral Gables Police said the 76-year-old victim hired a massage therapist to come to her home off of Douglas Road for a massage.
But over the last year, she noticed something besides stress was missing.
“Detectives in this case set up a surveillance camera, and it was able to be easily confirmed, as you can see in the video, that the masseuse was actually stealing from her,” Escobar said.
On that camera, police caught 60-year-old Delma Marina Balladares picking up jewelry off of the woman’s dresser, checking out what appears to be a gold ring, and then eventually placing it into her pocket.
It’s just another crime being addressed on World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day.
Last year, Florida had 9,252 reported cases in 2020, the second highest in the U.S.
“Elder abuse is a serious and growing problem,” said FBI Special Agent Jay Bernardo. “In South Florida here, we have a sizeable population of elderly folks.”
People like Susan Parks.
“He said he was going to hold his breath until he heard back from me,” she said.
A man she never met drained her life savings of more than $125,000.
Another victim sent someone claiming to be a porn star thousands of dollars before his adult children convinced him his money was being stolen.
Help is available. Retired officer Arty Jacobson heads up a volunteer group called Seniors vs. Crime.
They not only help report fraud to the proper agencies, they also help people get some money back, recovering $1.7 million last year.
But most of the stolen money is never seen again.
FBI investigators said computers make already vulnerable seniors even more of a target.
“They rarely ever meet these people. It’s all done online. That’s a clue if you’ve never actually had a chance to meet them in person,” Bernardo said.
Law enforcement said the best way to protect the elderly people in your life from becoming a victim is to regularly check on them, who they’re talking to, and who they’re giving money to.
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