Tips for Seniors

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.
  • Whenever possible, travel with friends. Check with your police, sheriff, or senior citizen center about escort services.
  • When using public transportation, sit near the driver.
  • Do not overburden yourself with packages and groceries that obstruct your view and make it hard to react.
  • Have your car or house key in hand as you approach your vehicle or home.
  • Carry a whistle or air horn. In some areas, community groups offer free alarms for seniors.
  • When you drive, keep doors locked and windows up. Park in well-lighted, busy areas. If you have car trouble, be wary of strangers who offer 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. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.

When You Are At Home

  • Use deadbolt 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.
  • 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. Call their company to verify 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 telephone 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 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.

Protect Your Money

  • If you receive checks in the mail regularly, arrange for them to be sent directly to the bank.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money. If you must carry a large sum, have a friend accompany you.
  • Do not display large amounts of cash.
  • Do not sign a check or contract until you are sure it is for a legitimate reason and know the details. Check with a friend, a lawyer, or the police, if in doubt.
  • Never put your purse or wallet on a counter while you examine merchandise in a store.

What If You Are Assaulted?

  • If the attacker is only after your purse or other valuables, do not resist. Your life and safety are worth more than your possessions.
  • Make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of the attacker and call the police or sheriff immediately.
  • Contact your local victim assistance center to help you deal with the trauma many crime victims experience. They can help you learn more about counseling, victim compensation laws, and how to follow your case's progress.
  • Start a crime prevention program in your building or neighborhood. Turn your tragedy into a helping experience for others.

Don't Be Conned

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, older citizens are victims of fraudulent schemes far out of proportion to their population numbers. Keep informed about the latest con schemes in your community by reading the newspaper. Be skeptical about any proposal that sounds too good to be true or has to be kept secret. Do not rush into anything. Check it out with friends, lawyers, police, the Better Business Bureau, or the state or county consumer affairs department.

If you are the victim of fraud, call the police immediately. You may be embarrassed because you were tricked, but your information is vital in catching the con artist and preventing others from being victimized.

Take Action Today!

Staying active in your community will help YOU feel safer and help make your neighborhood a better place to live.

  • Join a Neighborhood, Apartment, or Window Watch, or Citizen Patrol.
  • Become a foster grandparent or block parent for children who may need help in an emergency.
  • If a friend has been a victim of crime, be supportive. Listen carefully and non-judgmentally, cook a meal, help repair damage or replace belongings. Accompany the victim to the police station and to court.
  • Volunteer for a local Court Watch to help make courts more responsive to citizen's needs.
  • Ask the crime prevention officer from your local law enforcement agency to talk to your senior citizen's group.

Seniors are more vulnerable to certain crimes: purse snatching, mugging, and fraud. You can reduce opportunities for criminals to strike by being careful, alert, and a good neighbor.

photo of seniors

There are many things you can do to stay safe.

by Lieutenant Ed Crosby

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