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Published: Wednesday, 6/18/2014

101-year-old's plan helps catch suspected thief


HASTINGS, Mich. (AP) — A 101-year-old Michigan retirement community resident who suspected someone was stealing cash from her purse hatched a plan herself using money as bait to help figure out the thief’s identity.

Pauline Puttbrese lives at Woodlawn Meadows Retirement Village in Hastings, where she gets around-the-clock care. She told TV stations WOOD and WXMI that she first noticed money possibly missing from her purse a few weeks ago, but wasn’t certain.

Puttbrese said she noticed money missing again a few days later, so she came up with a plan: Leaving $17 in her purse “for bait.” She was able to figure out which employee might be involved due to the timing of the theft — and the retirement community’s administrator and police got involved.

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

Officers went to the retirement community about 30 miles southeast of Grand Rapids on June 9 to investigate Puttbrese’s case. Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt credited her with helping to catch the suspect, who confessed after speaking with police, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

The employee has been fired, WXMI said.

The case also is being sent to Barry County prosecutors for review of possible charges. In all, Puttbrese said she lost about $70 in cash. She said she isn’t concerned about getting it back, but has thoughts about a proper punishment for the thief.

“I just want to kick her in the rear end,” Puttbrese said.

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