Ameriprise denies theft claim

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX -- Bruce and Kathy Barton are trusting, caring people with big hearts.

Not only are they foster parents, but they have four adopted children and four of their own kids.

But despite their crowded house, they still like to open their home to people who are down on their luck.

“We have always been the type," Kathy said. "We have helped several people that have been out in the street. We are Christians -- far from perfect -- but we do believe in helping people.”

So when the couple found out that a relative and his friend were homeless and living out of a car this past Christmas, Bruce and Kathy decided to open their home to them at least for just two weeks until they could get on their feet.

“They were homeless, they didn't have a job, they were hungry,” Bruce explained. “We wanted to do something for them during the holidays, get them off the street and out of the cold.”

Bruce and Kathy said the homeless couple appreciated the hospitality.

“They were really happy to be here. They ate, ate, ate they were starved,” Kathy said. “They helped us around the house do stuff and was just happy we were helping them out.”

But after the holidays passed, Kathy was going through some of her jewelry and discovered a diamond necklace that Bruce gave her for Christmas was missing.

“And I'm like wait a minute, so I started looking and everything was gone,” she recalled. “All my boxes that I keep my necklaces and jewelry, I started going through them and they were empty. Everything was gone.”

Turns out the relative and his friend wound up stealing $9,000 in family heirlooms, along with a list of other items Bruce and Kathy found missing.

The Bartons filed a police report and the alleged thieves were arrested and jailed

The couple said they were heartbroken and after filing a theft claim with Ameriprise Home and Auto Insurance, they were told that they would be reimbursed for their loss

However, Ameriprise changed its mind, saying in a letter that the alleged thieves were residents of the household, which is an exclusion under the policy.

But Bruce maintains the couple was far from being considered residents.

“It was clear to them verbally that they were only staying here for a short time, just like a family member coming in from out of state,” Bruce said.

Ameriprise looked into the matter for me and they would not budge on their decision.  They say because the alleged thief was considered a relative and a temporary resident, those are exclusions under the policy.

I wish I could have helped out the Bartons, but they hope this is a learning lession for everyone out there.