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Worker accused of stealing jewelry from sleeping assisted living facility residents

The thefts began not long after Keona Stephens, 22, started working at the Allegro.
The thefts began not long after Keona Stephens, 22, started working at the Allegro.
Published Dec. 2, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — On the job only about three weeks, a worker at an assisted living facility stole more than $21,000 worth of wedding rings, earrings, gold chains and other jewelry from elderly residents there, police said Monday.

Keona Semone Stephens, 22, of St. Petersburg stole most of the jewelry from nightstands at the Allegro senior living facility while residents slept or were in the shower, police said. But in the latest theft that touched off the investigation, a resident complained to police that her diamond ring was slipped off her finger as she slept.

Stephens faces four counts of theft from a person 65 years of age or older and one count of grand theft. She was arrested Wednesday and released the same day from the Pinellas County Jail after posting bail.

She could not be reached Monday for comment. A representative of the Allegro did not return a call seeking comment.

Police said in a statement that Stephens has admitted taking and pawning the jewelry. "As near as we can tell, everything she took she pawned," St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz told the Tampa Bay Times.

The jewelry has all been located but remains at the pawn shops while police work with the shop owners to make sure they're properly reimbursed.

On Nov. 24, St. Petersburg police received a call from a resident of the Allegro, 4600 54th Ave. S. The resident said her ring had been taken from her finger while she slept.

Police began to investigate. Several other residents reported similar thefts, dating to Nov. 18.

The investigation led to Stephens, who had been employed at the facility to help residents with daily activities for about three weeks, Puetz said. Arrest reports detail the thefts.

• Nov. 18: A report says Stephens took a 14-karat gold bracelet from an 83-year-old victim's nightstand early in the morning. Police found the bracelet, valued at about $750, at Value Pawn on 34th Street S.

• Nov. 19: After taking three gold rings from a sleeping 94-year-old victim's nightstand, a report says, Stephens pawned the rings, valued at $1,500, for $194 in cash.

• Nov. 23: While a victim was in the shower, Stephens stole a diamond ring, gold earrings and a gold necklace chain with a cross on it, reports say. Those items, valued at $8,000 to $10,000, were also pawned, police say.

• Nov. 24: Stephens entered a 95-year-old woman's room and stole the gold wedding bands of the woman and her late husband, a report says. Stephens pawned those items as well, the report says, valued at $1,000 or more.

• Nov: 24: Stephens also took a diamond pendant on a cubed gold chain, worth $8,300 or more, reports say, from the nightstand of a victim for whom she was a caregiver. Those items were pawned, police say.

State records show that Stephens has been arrested once before in Florida. She faced a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer in March in St. Petersburg, but the charge was dropped.

In that incident, Puetz said, Stephens caused a disturbance at Bayfront Health while visiting an acquaintance. She was asked to leave by the hospital but refused. When St. Petersburg police arrived to escort her from the building, she provided a false name, Puetz said.

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Times staff Katie Mettler and news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.