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Caught on Camera: Health Care Worker Steals from Assisted Living Residents

KRQE News 13

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.09.43 AMBy Gabrielle Burkhart

She was hired to help elderly people on their death beds, but police claim a hospice nurse assistant was helping herself to residents’ belongings at an assisted living facility where she worked.

Detectives said it was the building’s surveillance cameras that helped expose how the suspect operated.

“It’s really frustrating, it’s very sad to see,” said Lieutenant Andrea Dobyns of the Santa Fe Police Department.

Santa Fe Police said 25-year-old Burgan Peña walked into the Kingston Residence Assisted Living facility on her day off last month.

Investigators said Peña pretended to sign in. Then, what she did next has residents in shock.

“This woman was given a responsibility to take care of these people, and instead she was stealing from them,” Lieutenant Dobyns explained.

Peña is shown on surveillance video checking apartment doors, letting herself into rooms and stealing from elderly residents.

Police said Peña does it again and again.

“Narcotics, money, jewelry,” Dobyns said. “These people have medication that they need. They need it to survive and be healthy, and she was just taking it right out of their rooms.”

According to police, Peña stole collectible items, cash, medicine and more.

Investigators said Peña was employed by Presbyterian Medical Services as a hospice nurse assistant. It wasn’t until residents at Kingston reported things missing from their rooms, that managers found it was Peña fooling everyone.

“Unfortunately we see elderly people targeted often, because people do feel that they can take advantage of them,” Dobyns told KRQE News 13.

No one at Kingston would interview on camera, but the Executive Director told KRQE News 13 that the residents who were victimized are thankful that the building’s security system helped catch the thief.

Peña is seen on surveillance video wearing scrubs and even pushing a wheelchair and talking to people in the halls between sneaking into rooms.

With video evidence, Santa Fe Police arrested Peña, and charged her with multiple counts of burglary.

Peña is currently out of jail on bond. Police said they’re investigating her in another similar burglary from a different facility.

KRQE News 13 called Presbyterian Medical Services to see if she’s still employed, but haven’t heard back yet.