Senior Crime Prevention
The purpose of the
following safety tips is to help seniors live their lives with a
greater degree of safety and security.
represent the most rapidly growing segment of the population in the
United States. One in every 8 Americans is age 65 or older. It is
estimated that there are more than 37 million senior citizens in
2004. This estimate arrives from the baby boomer age and that
seniors are enjoying longer and healthier lives. By the year 2030
the number of senior citizens is expected to exceed 64 million in
the U.S. Seniors often worry about crime. The truth is, seniors are
victims of crime less often than younger people, but the effect of
crime on seniors is often more severe. Additionally, seniors are
faced daily with the problems of elder abuse, fraud and crimes in
There are three
general rules to promote senior crime prevention, they are:
STAY ALERT! Be
tuned-in to your surroundings; don’t be taken by surprise. Be
aware and prepared, even in your own neighborhood.
STAND TALL! Walk
confidently, don’t show fear, and don’t look like a victim.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!
If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave right
away and get help if necessary.
These rules will help you develop a
“crime prevention” attitude. Also, the following are some
specific crime prevention tips that may apply in your lives. These
crime prevention tips are meant to protect you, your possessions and
Never open the door to strangers;
always insist on proper identification.
If someone comes to your door with
an emergency (for example, a traffic accident or an injury),
DON’T LET HIM OR HER IN! Call 9-1-1 for them!
SECURE YOUR HOME
Use deadbolt locks on all exterior
doors. Always keep your doors locked. Have a peephole in the
door so you can see a caller without opening it.
Don’t rely on security chains; a
determined assailant can easily break them.
Protect windows and other points
of entry with good locks or other security devices (such as a
length of wooden doweling placed in a track to prevent a window
or sliding glass door from opening). Mark and record your
When you go out, make your home
sound and appear occupied by using an automatic timer to turn on
interior lights and a radio. Keep the outside premises well lit
Do not leave your key under the
mat or in a flowerpot. Use outdoor lighting, shrubbery and
fencing to help secure your home.
Consider electronic surveillance
systems, alarm systems and/or a dog to enhance your home
If you believe you have been swindled,
call the police, your State or local Consumer Affairs Office, the
District Attorney’s Office, or your State Attorney General. Con
artists count on the reluctance of their victims to acknowledge they
have been tricked. Don’t delay, report them right away. If you never
report the incident, con artists will cheat again and again.
IN YOUR CAR
Know where you are going and how
to get there;
Maintain your vehicle in good
working order, with ample gasoline;
Plan your trip and take friends
When possible, travel during
Don’t enter dark parking lots or
Leave only your ignition key with
Let someone know where you are
going and your planned return time;
When driving, lock your doors and
windows; lockup when you leave;
If you suspect someone is
following you, drive to the nearest public place; and
Never pick up hitchhikers.
When using a bus or subway, plan
your route. Use busy, well-lit transportation stops;
Wait near the attendant’s stand;
Keep your belongings in your lap,
not on the seat next to you;
Don’t carry a purse if you can
avoid it; tuck money or credit cards into an inside pocket;
Sit near the driver but not next
to the door; and
USING AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINES (ATM)
Go inside your bank
Go during daylight hours;
Choose a busy ATM location;
Take a friend with you;
Preplan your transaction;
Put your money away quickly;
Don’t flash your cash;
If someone offers to let you go
ahead of him or her at the ATM machine, decline and leave;
If someone approaches your car at
the drive through ATM, roll up your window and leave;
If you begin to feel uncomfortable
during a transaction, press CANCEL, get your card, and
If possible, arrange for incoming
checks to be deposited directly into your bank account.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF A CRIME
Never pursue your attacker;
Call the police. Dial 9-1-1 in
case of an emergency; and
REPORT CRIME! You may have
money returned and prevent further theft from yourself and
PROTECT YOUR INCOME
Be sure the person who handles
your money can be trusted;
Take the greatest care when
signing any loan contracts;
Understand completely what you are
getting into; and
If you are not totally confident
in the transaction, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING! Wait and talk it
over with someone you trust.
FRAUD AND CON GAMES
If you are offered a deal that sounds
too good to be true, it usually is. Most people think they could not
be tricked, fooled or conned into handing over money for fraudulent
deals. But it happens often. Con artists are experts in human
psychology and behavior.
They know how to gain your confidence
with smooth talk and a self-assured manner. High-pressure sales are
another ploy used by con artists. You can’t recognize a con artist
by the way someone looks or dresses, but you can be on the alert for
con artists and consumer frauds.
Telemarketing is a common method of
stealing from senior citizens. Telephone fraud con artists spend a
lot of time “polishing” their lines for enticing seniors to buy.
Here are some tips that can alert you to Telemarketing scams:
You must act now!
You’ve won a “free” gift or
Pay only postage and handling.
You must send money, give a credit
card number, a bank account number or have a check picked up by
a carrier before you have a chance to carefully consider the
You don’t need to research their
company with anyone, including a lawyer, accountant, Better
Business Bureau or other consumer protection agency.
You don’t need written information
about their company or references.
You can’t afford to miss this
“high profit, no risk” offer.
REMEMBER! The most successful
con games are old schemes with new twists. There are many schemes
and variations to the same scheme. If you hear these or similar
lines, investigate further.
Elder abuse crosses all social,
economic and ethnic lines. Any elderly person can become a victim.
It is important to become aware of the possibility of elder abuse
and recognize signs that might suggest its occurrence. Knowing what
to look for and who to contact, if you suspect abuse, will help in
correcting the situation. This awareness will enable you to help
yourself, friends or family members who may be in trouble.
Fortunately, not all older persons
experience this type of treatment. Nevertheless, elder abuse is a
frightening and real issue. By being alert to situations that could
lead to abuse of an elderly person, you may be able to prevent a
serious injury or save a life.
Look for any unusual unexplained
bumps, bruises or cuts;
Look for unusual changes in
If you don’t hear from elderly
friends for several days stop by and check on them;
Be alert of salesmen at elderly
friends’ homes. If elderly friends tell you about someone
inappropriately spending their money, report it to the police;
Notice if elderly friends’ homes
are unusually unkempt or filthy; notice if they begin to look
malnourished; or if they are not receiving proper medication. If
necessary, notify the proper authority.
CONVALESCENT HOME CRIMES
With an increase of elderly community
members, due to the baby boomers and a
longer lifespan, there will be a greater need for long-term
care. This will include a need for convalescent homes, at-home care
and adult day cares. The following crime prevention tips are
provided to assist seniors, their relatives and friends in making
sure our elderly community members don’t become victims.
Often convalescent home crimes and
related quality of life issues go unreported. These crimes and
issues usually go unreported because:
Seniors fear retaliation for
reporting crimes by their caretakers.
Seniors may think that no one
cares about them or what happens to them.
They may think that the crimes
committed against them are just a fact of life and there is
nothing that can be done to change it.
Seniors may be embarrassed to tell
their family or friends what has been done to them because of
what their family or friends might think. Seniors may be ashamed
to ask their family or friends for assistance.
Convalescent home employees, who
become aware or witness crimes in the home, may not report these
crimes, fearing retaliation from their employer.
CRIMES IN CONVALESCENT HOMES
There are several types of crimes that
can occur. These crimes can range from physical abuse, criminal
neglect, sexual assault, emotional, psychological abuse or financial
abuse. It’s hard to believe that such crimes can occur against
seniors but these abuses are a harsh reality. It must be pointed out
that many seniors are as vulnerable as small children are. The
following is a list of possible signs of abuse and neglect.
Rough handling or grabbing
Hitting or slapping
Dragging the patient by the arms
The lack of physical activity
Sexual assault is when a senior is
forced, manipulated, or coerced into unwanted sexual activity, or
the senior lacks the ability to consent to any sexual activity.
Family members, staff members of homes or a stranger can initiate
Or sexual battery
Theft of personal effects
Overcharging for services
Fraudulent billing for
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN SELECTING A
When choosing a home, look at the
Check the inside and outside of
the home for cleanliness and grounds that are well kept. This
can indicate an overall concern by the caretakers for
When walking inside smell the air.
It should smell clean and fresh not musty or have a high
Look at the home’s equipment to
make sure it is in good working condition and not outdated. This
could indicate the lack of funds to assist in the care or well
being of the patients.
Talk to employees about the
condition of the home and their work environment. Happy
employees indicate a high morale that in-turn creates employees
that are more concerned about the quality of the job they
Hopefully we have established a “crime
prevention minded” attitude. We have also covered several aspects of
everyday life where your safety can be improved. Let your intuition
be your guide. Be alert, be safe and enjoy life.