More than five thefts a day are taking place at care homes across the UK, with elderly residents being robbed of more than £2.7 million in money, jewellery and treasured possessions in the last three and a half years.
The shocking data, obtained by the Mail on Sunday through freedom of information requests to police, shows that in dozens of cases the thieves were employees of the care homes and that many were never caught.
Examples included the theft of jewellery - including wedding rings - cash, and scams whereby residents' bank accounts were drained off funds.
"These figures are likely to only be the tip of the iceberg," comments Eileen Chubb, founder and director of charity Compassion In Care. "We need to improve the checks on people getting jobs in care homes."
Greater Manchester Police recorded the highest number of thefts, with 1,031 incidents, with £426,713 stolen in the three-and-a-half years from January 2012.
We've certainly seen plenty of cases here on AOL Money. In one of the most distressing examples, a couple were forced into different care homes after carer Frankie Yeoman emptied their bank accounts of the cash that might have enabled them to remain together.
Meanwhile, one Lancashire carer stole £12,000 from an elderly woman's bank account over two-and-a-half years; another in Derbyshire paid for a luxury holiday in America by using internet banking to steal £20,000 from three residents' accounts.
And even when carers are caught stealing from residents, the penalties can be low. When Lisa McIntyre was found to have stolen £20,000 from her elderly charges' bank accounts to pay for a trip to America, she was handed as suspended sentence - and ordered to pay back just £1.
Chubb says she believes that the Care Quality Commission, which regulates care homes, isn't doing enough. "There is not enough accountability," she says. "I think that if the Care Quality Commission disappeared tonight, no one would notice. The police also need to do more to bring the criminals – scores of whom are carers – to justice."