90-year-old grandmother says money taken from apartment after Saturday’s high-rise fire

Posted at 9:13 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 09:25:38-05

AUGUSTA, Mich. — When Lois Jackson was evacuated from her home around 2 a.m. Saturday morning, she remembers locking the door when she left. She made it outside within minutes from her third-floor apartment at the Crosstown Parkway Senior Community Apartments.

Monday, Lois returned home to pick up a few necessities while maintenance crews repaired the damage in the building. Escorted and assisted by a gentleman with Medallion Management, the company that owns the facility, she noticed something missing.

“When I got upstairs, I checked my wallet,” said Lois during an interview at a relative’s house. “The money was gone out of my wallet. All of my money was gone.”

The 90-year-old grandmother said $85 was missing from her wallet. It was all she had in there. She and the staff member reported it to a woman on the first floor, who was assisting senior citizens that day. She said the woman jotted down her report in a spiral notebook but did not ask for her name and phone number. Lois then left to meet her daughter-in-law, Dianne Jackson, outside.

“We went to the car and I thought, ‘I guess I better check my checkbook,’” said Lois. “And the whole stack of checks that was in my checkbook was gone.”

Lois returned to the same person and reported that, too. She said the woman took note of what happened and her apartment number, and that was it. No reaction. Both she and Jackson said they were shocked at the woman's “indifference.”

“The girl was young,” said Dianne, tears welling up. “I remember thinking, When you get older, you’re not going to be so indifferent.”

Dianne said she noticed three or four more names on the list after Lois reported the first incident 10 minutes prior. She remembered the day was chaotic: The lobby was filled with seniors and their families carrying garbage bags and laundry baskets filled with clothes and other items. Some of them were trying to remember where their belongings were or were concerned about the safety of their pets.

“They were just scared, and some of them were crying,” said Dianne. “If you can take something from poor people that are elderly, then I just kept wondering what else would can you take from people.”

“I was very sad, very angry to think that someone would actually do something like that,” said Lois. “And if they did it to me, they more than likely have done it to other people too."

Lois left dry food and a fresh bowl of water for her cat before she left on Monday. Then she and Dianne drove to the bank to make sure her account was untouched, and it was.

Scott Beltz of Medallion Management said they have not received any reports of money missing from homes and that they have a security guard patrolling the grounds every night.

“We’re not allowing anyone to roam the hallways,” said Beltz during a phone interview. “No one is allowed in the building.”

There were a few missing purses on the buses that transported the seniors to the local YMCA after the fire broke out, but those were promptly returned to their owners.

Beltz said the City of Kalamazoo has done an “awesome job” of inspecting the building. The whole north side of the building was completed on Tuesday. He has asked for residents who are missing money or other items to contact them directly, and they’ll meet them at the building to go over the incident.

He said Saturday was a “confusing time,” but they’ll “work through it and get through it.”

Lois said she hopes so. She likes living at the building, where she’s participates in bingo and pie nights. She’s eager to get home and have the money returned to her.

“I just can’t believe anyone would do it,” said Lois. “It’s hard to believe.”