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NJ woman’s dead mother victim of theft at Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania


PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Hospitals are often considered sanctuaries of healing, but an Action News investigation found they’re not immune to crime.

Rhonda Maurice, of Vineland, New Jersey, said her mother Joanne died unexpectedly at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in May.

She said after repeated phone calls to the hospital, someone finally found her mother’s purse.

But she didn’t think much of it until a month later when she got her mom’s bank statement.

“That Monday, the 24th, somebody took cash at the ATM there at the hospital twice — $400 both times,” she said.

That was three days after her mom died.

She immediately went to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Maurice said security took a report.

But she said the investigation went nowhere, and she was unable to close her mom’s account until she received the death certificate.

Maurice says $4,800 was drained from the account.

According to police records obtained by Action News, there were over 3,000 reported crimes at Philadelphia hospitals from 2017 to 2021, with thefts making up more than 38% of them.

Temple University Hospital had the most thefts with 318 followed by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with 157.

“If they’re bold enough to go to an ATM where there’s video cameras at their place of employment, then what else are they stealing?” asked Maurice.

There is no indication a HUP employee committed the thefts, but the hospital ATM was used to steal money on multiple days.

“Patient thefts do occur and that is unfortunate because you have somebody that is very vulnerable who is being victimized, and usually it’s a crime of opportunity,” said Paul Sarnese, who is a member of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety, a nonprofit organization dedicated to hospital safety.

He also oversees security for the Virtua Health Network.

Sarnese said annual studies by his organization found thefts are actually down at hospitals nationwide since the pandemic.

“I really think that has to do with fewer people coming into our facilities,” Sarnese said.

Sarnese said investigating hospital thefts can be difficult usually due to a lack of leads and information.

“It is very hard to determine if something was indeed taken, if it was disposed of inappropriately, or taken by a family member,” he said.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Rhonda Maurice’s mother, and she wants answers.

“If you pull the video, you’ll know who it is. It’s that simple. And I just felt like nobody cared to even do that. I don’t know why,” said Maurice.

HUP released a statement to Action News that said:

“Although we are unable to comment on specific situations, we have robust security procedures for safekeeping of any valuable items patients bring to our hospitals, and we take all reports of lost or stolen belongings seriously.”

Temple told Action News it takes patient security very seriously and has taken measures in place to minimize loss and theft.

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