Crime prevention as it pertains to seniors runs the gamut from elder abuse, fraud and financial exploitation to home security, identity theft and personal safety.
Financial crimes and exploitation can involve the illegal or improper use of a senior citizen’s funds, property or assets, as well as fraud or identity theft perpetrated against older adults. While exact statistics on how often financial crimes against the elderly occur are not available, it is widely believed to be underreported by the victims. A study published in 2011 by MetLife Mature Market Institute estimates the financial loss by victims of elder financial crimes and exploitation exceeds $2.9 billion dollars annually. However, a more recent study by True Link found that senior financial abuse and exploitation costs Americans over $36 Billion per year! …over 12 times previous estimates.
Here are 10 Crime Prevention Tips For Senior Citizens:
1. Be sure the locking hardware on your home is sufficient, and works properly.
• Door lock types vary. Ask a professional which type is appropriate for your home.
• Screws securing strike plates should be replaced with ones long enough to grab framing wood
• Horizontal track bars should be used on sliding doors
• Window hardware should be replaced with security hardware or supplemented with vertical track bars
• Peep holes should be installed, and should be positioned so you can see out of them without obstructions
2. If you have a security system on your home, make sure it works properly and use it regularly.
• Even when you’re out during the day
• Battery back-ups will keep the system working even when power is lost
• Cellular back-up maintain a connection to a monitoring station even when phone lines are out
3. Don’t leave valuables in plain sight or in easily predictable locations within your home.
• Not on the dresser top
• Don’t leave expensive items in jewelry boxes
• Not in your sock or underwear drawer
4. Install, maintain, and use proper lighting to deter nighttime crime
• Use exterior lighting over all entrances
• Mount the lighting high enough to prevent tampering
• Use timers and light sensors- don’t rely on turning lights on manually every night
• Place interior lights on timers so your home looks occupied
5. Maintain foliage according to the 3’/7’ rule for better visibility- not higher than 3’ or lower than 7’
• Especially near entrances
• Especially near walkways to home
6. Remember that stranger safety still applies.
• Don’t let strangers talk their way into your home
• Don’t let anyone draw you out of your home
• Ask for ID or credentials from utility workers
• Did you ask for assistance from this utility or contractor? Why are they there?
7. Carry your cell phone with you all the time
• Turn your location to “ON” and keep the power turned on
• Charge it nightly
• Have a listing in your address book for ICE- In Case of Emergency
8. Protect your money.
• Watch for scams and fraud
• Know where your money is
• Check your credit report annually
• There is no “Nigerian Money”, “foreign lottery”, or “lost inheritance”
9. Don’t flaunt valuables
• Wearing jewelry in public may be “advertising” to criminals
• Leaving valuables in cars leaves them open to thieves
10. Be alert to your surroundings.
• Situational awareness is important in keeping yourself safe. Always know what’s going on around you.
• Involve neighbors, friends, and Neighborhood Watch
• Partner with a friend for a daily mutual check-in
Age Safe® America is a national membership, training and advocacy organization dedicated to meet the growing need for Home Safety Assessments and Aging-in-Place Home Modifications. Age Safe America members are committed to helping seniors and families determine the steps necessary to maximize both safety and independence. Age Safe™ Advisor Members provide evaluations, recommendations and solutions for Fall Prevention, Home Safety, Crime Prevention and Identity Theft to help older adults enjoy the comfort, freedom and independence to “age safe at home“.