Don't Be a Crime Victim: Crime Prevention Tips for Seniors

Don't Be a Crime Victim: Crime Prevention Tips for Seniors

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to crime, cons, and burglaries, but there are ways senior citizens can protect themselves. Seniors can take proactive measures to protect property, homes, and oneself against crime, regardless of age.

Money Matters

Several organizations, including the National Crime Prevention Council, Senior Citizens Against Crime, as well as Adult Protective Services encourage seniors to be especially aware of his or her behavior both at home and out in the public in order prevent crime against self and property. Many elders are unfamiliar with how prevalent and easy it is for criminals to access identifying information from the Internet as well as a curbside mailbox, and extra caution is advised for individuals receiving Social Security benefits, pensions, and other important mail every month to prevent becoming a crime victim.

Crime Victim Seniors Police Badge

Some of the most common crime prevention tips for seniors when it comes to finances include:

  • Have Social Security or pension checks deposited automatically into bank accounts to prevent checks from being stolen from mailboxes.
  • Store all valuables in a safe deposit box.
  • Never withdraw money from a bank account for someone else, or allow someone to withdraw it for you unless it is trusted member of your immediate family.
  • Be wary of any get-rich-quick schemes, investment opportunities or anyone who comes to your door asking you to sign anything, or to register for sweepstakes, free vacations or from individuals claiming to recover lost monies. When in doubt, contact the National Consumers League Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060 or the Better Business Bureau.
  • If you have been swindled, conned or are a crime victim of theft, report the incident to your local Police or Sheriff's Department or State Attorney's Office.

At Home

Many of us feel perfectly safe at home, but remember that no home is a castle and senior citizens may be especially vulnerable if they live alone. Regardless of your community, its low crime rate or its reputation for being family-oriented and friendly, follow common sense and never leave doors unlocked, never advertise when you're going to be away, and encourage neighbors and friends to look out for each other.

Other crime victim prevention tips that seniors should follow include:

  • Put a stop on mail or newspapers if you plan on being away for more than two days. Arrange for neighbors or other family members to mow the lawn, turn on or off lights, or collect mail when possible.
  • Always lock your doors!
  • Remember to keep the garage door shut and locked.
  • Don't let strangers into your house. If you need repairs or service, check with the local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or friends and family regarding the reputation of any business that send service employees to your home. When possible, make sure someone can be there with you, and keep all valuables and money out of sight.
  • Whenever possible, try to vary your daily routines. A person with dependable habits makes becoming a crime victim easier for burglars to enter a home.
  • Keep the outside perimeter of your home and property well lit.
Crime Victim Seniors Police Person with Hand Up

Outdoors

Whether you're going outside for a walk, shopping, or a day with friends and family, make sure that you are constantly aware of surroundings. Carry your purse close to your body, never leave it unattended, and don't carry around cash if you don't have to. It stands to reason that no one, and most especially seniors, should never flash large amounts of cash, and to be especially vigilant when leaving a bank. When shopping or walking, crime prevention tips also include:

  • Never walk alone at night. If you must, make sure to stay in well lit areas. For such occasions, it may be a good idea to carry a whistle and a small canister of mace if desired.
  • Try to find someone to walk with you.
  • When driving, have your key out and ready when approaching your car or front door.
  • Avoid carrying credit cards that are not used, or large amounts of cash.
  • Avoid carrying your wallet in your back pocket. Put it in the front pocket or a jacket pocket instead.
  • Carry enough change to make an emergency phone call.
  • If traveling in a bus or subway, sit as close to the driver as possible.

The bottom line is to use common sense, be ever vigilant and aware of your surroundings. If the location or situation makes you uncomfortable, turn around and leave. Seniors can protect themselves and their property while at the same time taking steps to avoid dangerous situations.

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