ORMOND BEACH, Fla. - Authorities said a man was caught stealing from an elderly victim at an assisted living facility in Florida, and an Amazon Alexa video device is credited with alerting the victim's family to the suspected thief's presence.
The Ormond Beach Police Department said that on December 22, officers responded to the Brookdale Assisted Living Facility in regard to a disturbance. When they arrived, they said they learned that Russell Bannister, 47, entered an elderly resident's room without consent or knowledge and stole the resident's cash and credit cards.
The victim’s family told FOX 35 News that there is a “Drop-In” feature on an Alexa device which they had placed in their loved one's room. The victim’s daughter, who lives in Alaska, used the feature check on her father and saw a strange man going through her father's wallet.
The daughter in Alaska called a sister who lives in Ormond Beach. The local daughter and her son immediately went to go check on the relative and said the suspect was still in his room. When the victim’s family confronted the suspect, they said he took off running.
Ormond Beach police officers caught up with that suspect, later identified as Bannister, and arrested him. Body camera video of police interacting with Bannister was released on Thursday.
Police believe Bannister has pulled off similar crimes across the county. They have investigated this disturbance and identified additional victims at other assisted living facilities. They said that all three victims identified were 90 years of age or older.
They are asking family members to please reach out to any loved ones who are staying in assisted living facilities to ensure that they have not victimized by Bannister.
This is not Bannister's first run-in with the law, nor is it the first time he has been accused of stealing from the elderly. In September, FOX 35 News reported on another arrest in which authorities said Bannister portrayed himself as a "hurricane handyman" who took about $21,378 from several victims. They said that Bannister's victims were usually elderly residents of Edgewater and Daytona Beach.
If you suspect your loved one has been victimized by Bannister, please call 386-676-3520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was written in Orlando, Florida.