Crime Prevention Tips for Seniors
Crime and the fear of
crime create special problems for the elderly.
Crime prevention is everyone's responsibility,
not just a job for law enforcement. Seniors can
learn how to protect themselves from crime by
following these simple, commonsense suggestions.
Share these tips with your neighbors and friends,
to make it tough for criminals to work in your
. . .
- Never open your
door automatically. Install and use a
- Lock your doors and
windows. (Three quarters of the
burglaries involving older persons
involved unlocked doors and windows; and,
less than one half of these robberies are
reported.) Keep your garage doors locked.
- Vary your daily
- Use "Neighbor
Watch" to keep an eye on your
neighborhood. A concerned neighbor is
often the best protection against crime
because suspicious persons and activities
are noticed and reported to police
- Don't leave notes
on the door when going out.
- Leave lights on
when going out at night; use a timer to
turn lights on and off when you are away
for an extended period.
- Notify neighbors
and the police when going away on a trip.
Cancel deliveries such as newspapers and
arrange for someone - a neighbor's child,
perhaps - to mow the lawn if need be.
Arrange for your mail to be held by the
Post Office, or ask a neighbor to collect
it for you.
- Be wary of
unsolicited offers to make repairs to
your home. Deal only with reputable
- Keep an inventory
with serial numbers and photographs of
resaleable appliances, antiques and
furniture. Leave copies in a safe place.
- Don't hesitate to
report crime or suspicious activities.
- Install deadbolt
locks on all your doors.
- Keep your home well
lit at night, inside and out; keep
- Ask for proper
identification from delivery persons or
strangers. Don't be afraid of asking . .
. if they are legitimate they won't mind.
- If a stranger asks
to use your telephone, offer to place the
call for him or her yourself.
- Never let a
stranger into your homeDo not leave notes
on your door when you are gone, and do
not hide your keys under the mat or in
other conspicuous places.
- Never give out
information over the phone indicating you
are alone or that you won't be home at a
- When you are gone
for more than a day, make sure your home
looks and sounds occupied . . . use an
automatic timer to turn on lights, radio
- If you arrive at
home and suspect a stranger may be
inside, DON'T GO IN. Leave quietly and
call 911 to report the crime.
. . .
- If you are attacked
on the street, make as much noise as
possible by calling for help or blowing a
whistle. Do not pursue your attacker.
Call 911 and report the crime as soon as
- Avoid walking alone
at night. Try to have a friend accompany
you in high risk areas . . . even during
- Avoid carrying
weapons . . . they may be used against
- Always plan your
route and stay alert to your
surroundings. Walk confidently.
- Have a companion
- Stay away from
buildings and doorways; walk in
- Have your key ready
when approaching your front door.
- Don't dangle your
purse away from your body. (Twelve
percent of all crimes against the elderly
are purse snatchings and street
- Don't carry large,
bulky shoulder bags; carry only what you
need. Better yet, sew a small pocket
inside your jacket or coat. If you don't
have a purse, no one will try to snatch
SHOPPING . . .
- Carry your purse
very close to you . . . don't dangle it
from your arm. Never leave your purse in
a shopping cart. Never leave your purse
- Don't carry any
more cash than is necessary. Many grocery
stores now accept checks and automatic
teller cards instead of cash.
- Don't display large
sums of cash.
- Use checks where
CAR . . .
- Always keep your
car doors locked, whether you are in or
out of your car. Keep your gas tank full
and your engine properly maintained to
- If your car breaks
down, pull over to the right as far as
possible, raise the hood, and wait INSIDE
the car for help. Avoid getting out of
the car and making yourself a target
before police arrive.
- At stop signs and
traffic lights, keep the car in gear.
- Travel well-lit and
busy streets. Plan your route.
- Don't leave your
purse on the seat beside you; put it on
the floor, where it is more difficult for
someone to grab it.
- Lock bundles or
bags in the trunk. If interesting
packages are out of sight, a thief will
be less tempted to break in to steal
- When returning to
your car, check the front and back seat
- Never pick up
. . .
- Many criminals know
exactly when government checks arrive
each month, and may pick that day to
attack. Avoid this by using Direct
Deposit, which sends your money directly
from the government to the bank of your
choice. And, at many banks, free checking
accounts are available to senior
citizens. Your bank has all the
- Never withdraw
money from your bank accounts for anyone
except YOURSELF. Be wary of con artists
and get-rich schemes that probably are
- You should store
valuables in a Safe Deposit Box.
- Never give your
money to someone who calls on you,
identifying himself as a bank official. A
bank will never ask you to remove your
money. Banks need the use of your money,
and they don't want one of their
customers to invite crime by having large
amounts of cash around.
- When someone
approaches you with a
get-rich-quick-scheme involving some or
all of YOUR savings, it is HIS
get-rich-quick-scheme. If it is a
legitimate investment, the opportunity to
contribute your funds will still be there
tomorrow-after you have had time to
- If you have been
swindled or conned, report the crime to
your local police or Prosecuting
Attorney's office. Con-artists count on
their victim's reluctance to admit
they've been duped, but if you delay you
help them get away. Remember, if you
never report the crime, they are free to
cheat others again and again and you have
no chance of ever getting your money