Thursday, November 18, 2004
7 News Features: Home Alone
From nannies to housekeepers. Our busy lives means trusting others.But what happens when you're gone, and they're "home alone"? How much do you really know about these people? And what happens when they're left alone in your home, may surprise you. The Nightteam's Carmel Cafiero has more in her special assignment report "Home Alone".
WSVN--A $30,000 dollar bracelet, a family heirloom her father gave to her mother, was stolen from Pia Hunter's bedroom jewelry box.
Theft victim Pia Hunter: "You just feel really gross, that someone's going through your stuff."
Who could have taken it? Pia suspected a couple she hired to clean her apartment.
Pia: "They took it. They just feel whatever's there is there for the taking."
Several clues pointed to the pair, but Pia just wanted the bracelet back.
Pia: "My concern was they would melt it down, time was of the essence."
So she hired private investigators, who set up a sting using tiny surveillance cameras hidden in a VCR and clock radio.
Tom Ruskin/Private Investigator:"We can clearly see she surveys the bookshelf to see what is there, and what is maybe, able to be stolen."
The couples background checks revealed the harsh truth.
Tom: "These people were heroin addicts, they had extensive criminal records, both were felons."
Pia: "I had two criminals come into my house and I really had no idea."
It could happen with new employees working in the home or long time helpers.
In this footage, a nanny is caught helping herself to money that's supposed to be spent on the children she's caring for.
And even worse -- another family tape their nanny physically abusing their kids -- dropping and hitting them.
Tom: "People are hiring nannies and they don't even know who's taking care of their children."
Before hiring anyone to work in your home, experts say you should have workers fill out a job application including their name, address and social security number.
Do a background check.
Some can be done on the Internet for 50-dollars or more professionally for 500-dollars.
Because if something happens, it could cost big bucks to privately investigate a crime.
Tom: "Generally you're in a five thousand to fifteen thousand dollar range when you get into these things."
As for Pia, her cleaners were caught stealing blank checks during the job. They confessed to taking her bracelet and selling it to a second hand jeweler for a fraction of what it's worth.
Pia: "They had stolen it, and went and did drugs with the money."
Thanks to good old-fashioned police work the bracelet was returned to Pia - no worse for the wear.
Pia: "It's here, it's totally real and it's back. It's just amazing, and I think my parents will be the most thrilled of all."
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