Background Check Failed to Spot "Serial Shoplifter"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A North County family unknowingly hired the San Marcos woman outed by the "Dr. Phil" show as a serial shoplifter. Now, they want to warn other parents how easily a convicted criminal can slip through a company's background check process.

    Laura Eaton and her husband Matthew were featured on the national talk show three years ago bragging about making $100,000 by selling shoplifted toys on eBay.

    Mother Discovers Child Caregiver Is Parolee

    [DGO] Mother Discovers Child Caregiver Is Parolee
    A North County family unknowingly hired the San Marcos woman outed by the "Dr. Phil" show as a serial shoplifter. Now, they want to warn other parents how easily a convicted criminal can slip through a company's background check. Tony Shin reports. (Published Thursday, Jun 9, 2011)

    The admitted serial shoplifters claimed to have stolen a million dollars worth of merchandise from Target and Walmart.

    Officials arrested the pair in September 2009 almost a year after the program showed video of the couple taking their children along on a three-day shoplifting binge.

    Matthew Eaton is still in prison. Laura Eaton recently completed a 12-month sentence.

    Fast forward to June 2011 when Escondido resident Jennifer Prato said she noticed something unusual about the woman recently sent to help out her family.

    Prato doesn’t trust anyone with her kids except for family members. But she made an exception during her recent pregnancy.

    “We’ll I had just had my third child and he was born via C-section so I needed some help,” Prato told NBCSanDiego.

    That’s why Jennifer Prato turned to Brightstar Care, a national company that provides child and senior home care.

    But before she contacted the Escondido branch, she and her husband did some investigating.

    “We printed out the pages from their website to make sure that they had done all of the background investigation and drug testing that we would want to have done before someone came to our house and took care of our kids,” said Prato. “And we really felt like we could trust them.”

    Jennifer says the company sent a woman named Laura Eaton to her home.

    “She was wearing her Brightstar scrubs and looked very professional,” she said.

    But after two weeks Prato says her gut instinct was bugging her.

    “I just never felt comfortable, I felt like she was being deceitful with me about something I just wasn’t sure what,” she said.

    Prato searched on the Internet under the name “Laura Eaton.” “And my jaw dropped and I screamed,” Prato said.

    Prato immediately contacted Brightstar and says a company spokesperson told her Eaton had slipped through the cracks.

    Eaton hadn’t been fingerprinted and her background check had cleared the company spokesperson told Prato.

    Senior vice-president of BrightStar Care released this statement to NBCSanDiego.

    “"We are taking this very seriously and we are happy no harm came to the family. We are checking with the local provider to find out how this could have happened and make sure it doesn't happen again," the statement read.

    Prato has this warning to others who need to hire outside help.

    “Anybody who has somebody working in your home where you trust a third party to do your homework for you, you need to know to trust your gut,” she said.