Crimes that target senior citizens are an unfortunate everyday reality in nearly every city in the United States. Many criminals, thinking that the elderly might be a “softer” target, have put their mischievous focus on this segment of our society.
Because seniors are living longer and healthier lives, and as their numbers continue to grow as a percentage of the overall population, the trend may be that seniors will become crime victims at an ever increasing rate.
What techniques can seniors utilize to help reduce their opportunity of becoming a crime victim?
Here are some techniques and ideas suggested by the Fullerton, California Police Department:
When you are out:If you must carry a purse, hold it close to your body. Do not dangle it. Never carry a wallet in your back pocket. Put it in an inside jacket pocket or front pants pocket.Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to return.Avoid dark, deserted routes even if they are the shortest.Carry change for emergency telephone and transportation use.
A Quick Security Tip: If possible, consider buying and carrying a mobile phone for added safety.Whenever possible, travel with friends.
A Quick Security Tip: Some malls and shopping centers may offer, upon request, a security escort to your vehicle.When using public transportation, sit near the driver.Do not overburden yourself with packages and groceries that obstruct your view and make it harder to react.Have your car or house keys in hand as you approach your vehicle or home.Carry a whistle or loud horn to use if you need to summon help.
A Quick Security Tip: In some communities, community groups offer free alarms for seniors.When you drive, keep doors locked and windows up. Park your vehicle in well-lit and busy areas. If you have car trouble, be wary of strangers who offer to help. Stay in your car and ask them to call a service truck or the police.If a friend or taxi takes you home, ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside.When walking, act calm, confident, and know where you are going.
A Quick Security Tip: Trust your instincts — if you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave!
When you are at home: Use deadbolts locks on all exterior doors. Keep your doors locked at all times, even when you are inside.Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks or other security devices.
A Quick Security Tip: You may want to consider purchasing a high quality home alarm system.Make your home appear occupied when you go out by using a timer to turn on lights and a radio.Never let repair or sales persons into your home without checking their identification.
A Quick Security Tip: Call their company to verify their identity if you are not sure.Install a viewer in your door, and use it.If you live alone, do not advertise it. Use only your first and middle initials in telephone books, directories, and apartment lobbies.Get to know your neighbors, and keep their phone numbers handy for emergencies.Work out a buddy system with a friend to check on each other daily.Engrave your valuables with a unique identification number recommended by the police. Check with your local senior citizen centers for available services.Keep bonds, stock certificates, seldom-worn jewelry, and stamp and coin collections in a safe deposit box.Do not hide extra house keys under a doormat or in other obvious spots.
A Quick Security Tip: Yes, most criminals are aware of all the “secret” extra key hiding places.
Don’t be conned:According to AARP, older citizens are victims of fraudulent schemes far out of proportion to their population number. Keep informed about the latest con schemes in your community by reading the newspaper and other media (including the Internet). Be skeptical (very skeptical) about any proposal that sounds too good to be true or has to be kept secret.
Do not rush into anything.
A Quick Security Tip: Check it out with family, friends, lawyers, police, the Better Business Bureau, and the state or county consumer affairs department.If you are a victim of fraud, call the police immediately. You may be embarrassed because you are tricked, but your information is vital in catching the con artist and preventing others from being victimized.
Especially now, with some of our economic markets being unstable, criminals may use this as an occasion to financially dupe seniors who might be worried about their retirement funds.
For more details on senior crime prevention, check out the Fullerton Police Department’s site at www.ci.fullerton.ca.us, as well as contacting your local police or sheriff’s department.
My Final Thoughts: Society owes a deep debt of gratitude to our seniors, and the community as a whole, must take all sensible efforts to protect them from the evildoers who want to prey on these folks.
Although these crime prevention tips are geared towards senior citizens, many of these suggestions apply to all of us, regardless of our age.
Whether you are a senior or not, please keep in mind these universal security ideas.
Note: If you manufacture or distribute any security, safety, emergency preparedness, homeland defense or crime prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to [email protected].
Copyright 2008 by Bruce Mandelblit
“Staying Safe” with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of Newsmax.com and Newsmax.com magazine.
Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is [email protected].
Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer.
Bruce writes "Staying Safe," a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety, and crime prevention.
Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky colonel — the state’s highest honor — for his public service.
This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
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