PD: 101-year-old’s plan catches thief

Pauline Puttbrese. (June 17, 2014)

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — A 101-year-old Hastings retirement community resident hatched a plan to catch a cash thief — and it worked.

Pauline Puttbrese is not an average 101-year-old.

“I got a tattoo on my 100th birthday,” she said.

She also got one on her 99th birthday. To keep busy, she said she “dresses” up old greeting cards and sends them back out.

Puttbrese lives at Woodlawn Meadows Retirement Village on N. East Street in Hastings. She gets around-the-clock care.

“They’re supposed to check on us every hour,” she said.

One morning a couple of week ago, she noticed money missing from her purse.

“The night before, I gave my great-granddaughter money to buy some stuff for me, so I took her out $25,” Puttbrese said. “There was at least a $20 and a $10 (bill) and some others. I didn’t count, I didn’t know then. The next day when I got my purse out, it was gone.”

A few days later, she noticed again money was missing from her purse.

“The second time it went three, four days, a weekend went by, so we decided she probably wasn’t working the weekends,” Puttbrese said. “I went to get money and a $20 bill was gone.”

That time the thief left $17 in the purse; A $10, $5, and two $1 bills.

“So I said, ‘Let’s leave that for bait and see if she comes back,'” Puttbrese said.

And the thief did come back a few nights later.

“We knew it was at night cause I checked my purse in the morning. When I get up, I look to see if I had any money. And before I went to bed I checked it, to make sure it was in there,” Puttbrese said.

Because of the trap Puttbrese set, and the avid checking of her purse, she was able to figure out exactly which Woodlawn employee was taking her money.

“It just made me ill. Sick to my stomach, I couldn’t even eat,” she said.

After the second time she noticed the money missing, she notified the home administrator. After the third time, police were called.

Police contacted the suspect Puttbrese identified. The suspect then allegedly confessed to taking cash from Puttbrese’s purse on two occasions, police say.

The case will be forwarded to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges.

In all, Puttbrese said the crooked care worker got about $70.

She doesn’t expect to get it back.

“But I guess I won’t miss it. If she enjoyed it more, then OK,” she said.

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