"That's scary because the person I visit, his room is always locked," said Denise Taylor of Tulare. Taylor was visiting a friend at Prestige Assisted Living facility in Visalia Friday night. She was shocked to hear that Prestige was one of the facilities a thief broke into. "When I come to see him at night, the doors are already locked. I have to call just to come in and bring coffee. So I felt the security was pretty good," said Taylor.
Visalia Police say despite the security, Jacque Kettle was able to walk into the facility and steal residents' property.
Investigators say she also managed to get into the Walnut Park Retirement center through unlocked doors. "She was taking all kinds of items: wallets, purses, jewelry, cash, identification cards. Those items that she could pawn off she did," said Sgt. Ozzie Dominguez with the Visalia Police Department.
Police said there were at least 13 victims who came forward after they noticed some of their belongings missing. The first case was reported a year and a half ago.
Detectives recently got a lead when the suspect was caught using one of the stolen credit cards. "It was through a credit card transaction that we were able to obtain some video footage and it was through that video that eventually led to this suspect's identification," said Dominguez.
Management at both retirement facilities would not talk on-camera but Action News received the following statement from officials at Prestige. "We do everything possible to keep our community a safe place. At the same time, it's important for us to create a welcoming environment that fosters the independence that our residents enjoy, and allows them and their friends and family to easily come and go."
Officials at Walnut Park also sent a statement, reading, "Walnut Park has strong reputation of providing a secure, welcoming and enriching environment for seniors, and we remain committed to upholding this standard."
Friends of those residents say anyone stealing from the most vulnerable should be ashamed. "Anyone who can do that to an elderly person needs to have the book thrown at them," said Taylor.
Jacque Kettle is in jail -- her bail amount is set at $250,000. Visalia Police believe there could be more victims that come forward.