Son hides in mother's closet to catch senior living thief; executive director arrested

Serafina Frahm (Martin County Sheriff's Office)
Serafina Frahm (Martin County Sheriff's Office)

The executive director of a senior living community in Florida faces felony charges of burglary and grand theft after the son of a resident placed cameras in his mother's apartment and then hid in a closet while the employee allegedly entered the apartment and took money from the resident's purse.

Serafina Frahm, 53, who worked at The Point at Ocean Boulevard, an independent living community in Stuart, FL, could have taken a total of $1,200 from the 82-year-old resident in separate incidents, the resident's son believes, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by McKnight's Senior Living.

The son told authorities in the Martin County Sheriff's Office that on four separate occasions in early to mid-April, he noticed that his mother seemed to be going through her weekly spending money more quickly than usual. The thefts he suspected coincided with days she left her unit to attend the community's happy hour, he said.

On April 14, according to the arrest affidavit, the son photocopied money and recorded himself and his mother putting the money into her purse and then putting the purse in a dresser. He then set up video cameras in his mother's apartment, and the cameras subsequently recorded a women entering the apartment, removing the purse from where it was stored and taking money from the wallet inside. Afterward, according to the sheriff's office, the woman used her dress to wipe down the wallet and purse before replacing them, and she also wiped down the dresser.

Three days later, according to the arrest affidavit, the son photocopied money at the sheriff's office, then went to his mother's apartment and set up the cameras again. He reportedly hid in his mother's closet until he heard a noise, at which time he confronted Frahm as she was leaving the apartment. Two detectives and a sergeant from the sheriff's office then entered the apartment, according to the report, and they later arrested her.

“Frahm confessed to using her master key to enter the apartment and taking the money,” Det. John Deckard wrote in the affidavit. “Frahm stated that she was taking the money to help out another resident.”

Frahm allegedly told authorities with the sheriff's office that she had stolen a total of $200 on two separate occasions, including once in early April in addition to the incident on April 17. She said she kept some of the money and gave some to a recently promoted co-worker so she could buy new clothes, according to the affidavit.

Frahm denied taking money from the resident on April 14, Deckard wrote, adding, however, that the “distinctive” white floral dress worn by the thief in the son's video matches a dress that Frahm was wearing in a photo she posted to Facebook that day. (See the video, which the sheriff's office posted on its Facebook page, below.)

In a Facebook post, detectives said they suspect that Frahm may have stolen from other residents.

Stephanie Harris, CEO of Arrow Senior Living, which manages The Point at Ocean Boulevard, told McKnight's Senior Living that Frahm had worked at the community for less than six months.

“She started out as the sales director and was appointed executive director about a month later,” she said, adding that Frahm's employment has been terminated.

The community does not prohibit cameras in resident rooms, Harris said. “We look at the apartments as private residences,” she said.

After Frahm's arrest, Harris said, the company is reviewing all internal procedures. “One of the things that we're specifically looking at are our security policies and master key access,” she said.

“This person was thoroughly vetted when we hired her,” Harris said. “She had passed all background checks with no concerns and had really strong tenure in prior positions. And so this is unfortunate.”

Video from the Martin County Sheriff's Office Facebook page:

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