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by Abigail Van Buren

Son-in-Law's Familiarity Is Fast Breeding Contempt

DEAR ABBY: I handle "lost" property for a large hospital, and I see so much heartache, I feel compelled to write.

Abby, advise your readers to please leave all valuables at home, especially their precious wedding rings with stones and other "real" jewelry or religious medals.

I cannot tell you how many people I have seen who have been robbed of their jewelry and other valuables. The elderly are especially vulnerable, as they are sometimes confused. Their rings are often loose after years of wear and are easily slipped off by thieves.

A tip: Never tape a ring to a finger -- it's an advertisement to come and get it.

Even the dead are being robbed. If you arrive at the hospital unexpectedly, send your valuables home immediately with a friend. If you're alone, insist that the nurse (no one else) lock up your rings in the hospital safe. She will place them in a special "valuables" envelope and will give you a receipt.

Most hospitals are wide open to the public, and that includes thieves as well as fine and dedicated employees. Also, hospitals are not responsible for lost valuables. We cannot afford to reimburse patients for theft. Please sign this ... WORKING A NICE BAY AREA HOSPITAL