VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - An 82-year-old woman was victimized by the person who was supposed to be caring for her, according to court records.
The victim reported to Virginia Beach Police that an engagement ring, bracelet, Rolex watch and wedding ring - valued at nearly $24,000 in total - were stolen from her.
The theft happened in her home. The victim has trouble getting around without help and requires medical assistance.
Police arrested 37-year-old Tahiyya Sherwood, the victim’s certified nursing assistant.
Court documents state the victim reported the stolen items on May 16, and through the police investigation it was determined that some of the items were allegedly pawned.
The records say the pawns happened between February and April.
Police arrested Sherwood on June 9 when she showed up at the victim’s house to work.
The victim said she was shocked by what happened and that she trusted the suspect. She said she couldn’t believe this happened.
Records state the victim got some of the jewelry back, but not the Rolex watch.
Unfortunately, crimes where seniors are exploited or abused are on the rise, according to the World Health Organization.
The CDC calls elder abuse a significant public health problem.
They say one out of every 10 seniors become victims of elder abuse, which includes emotional, physical or financial abuse, and that a lot of the crimes don't get reported.
"It’s very heartbreaking when you see people who have worked all their lives to be productive citizens and then when they become senior citizens, they’re taken advantage of by other members of our society," said Tidewater Community College Department of Criminal Justice Head and former Norfolk Police Detective Richard James. "The criminal element out there look at the senior citizens as easy prey."
James said people working to care for the elderly all need background checks, and he thinks technology should be used more to monitor how seniors are being treated.
Experts say checking on seniors regularly and warning your loved ones of the dangers can also prevent them from being a victim.
"They're the ones who took care of us when we were younger, so now we have an obligation to take care of them," said James.
Sherwood is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on August 11.