Seniors, Let's Take a bite out of crime

Crime prevention is everyone’s responsibility and there are numerous measures seniors can do in order to keep their property and themselves safe.

People must realize it’s not just a job for law enforcement to combat crime, but is the job of everyone and isn’t just in one’s home. It is common-sense measures such as locking a door, joining a neighborhood watch program in their area and going to the bank with a friend, that can help prevent crime.

Many older men and women fear crime even though, statistically, their risk of being victimized is low. Seniors are more vulnerable to certain crimes – purse snatching, mugging, and fraud. Seniors can reduce the opportunities for criminals to strike by being careful, alert and a good neighbor.

There are numerous things people can do in order to exercise good crime prevention.

Two of the most viable crime prevention measures people can do is install a security alarm system and also start a neighborhood watch program in their area.

Security alarm systems and the placing of alarm signs in yards are a definite detriment to unscrupulous people who want to steal from residents. It is like Pavlov’s theory of operant conditioning; most crooks will decide not to attempt to break into a home that displays placards saying an alarm is present. They will normally move onto a home they believe is “easy pickings” for them.

Neighborhood watches are an excellent way to protect people’s property. More than one set of eyes help when everyone is on the alert for unwanted visitors to an area.

“We are ever vigilant when ensuring unwanted people are not in our area,” said a Golden Valley resident. “All our neighbors and residents wave at each other and most of us recognize the different vehicles we all drive.

“If we observe a vehicle we don’t normally see in our area, we keep an eye on the driver to see what they are up to, especially if the driver pulls into a neighbor’s property that we know are not home.”

If someone observes someone they do not know wandering through their yard or their neighbors, call 911 to report the suspicious activity. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Many people really don’t think much about it when they post comments on Facebook and the possible ramifications and impact of their actions.

People have a habit of making comments on the various social media outlets about their plans of being away from their homes – either heading to town to buy something or when that they are going on vacation.

Of course, when they return home, they wonder why someone broke into their home while they were away and stole their precious items.

Forest Gump once said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Posting that they will be away for a period of time is an open-ended invitation to the crooks and vandals saying, “Hey, I am gone for a week on vacation or I’ll be in town for about five hours; stop by and take whatever you want.”

There are certain things people can post, that is, if they feel that uncontrollable urge to tell people they are going to be away from their property. The best is to say someone is staying at their house while they are gone and most importantly, wait until they return home to post those precious vacation photos.

When at Home, always:

● Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and keep doors locked at all times, even when they are inside;

● Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks or other security devices;

● Install security cameras so the outside areas of the home and buildings can be monitored and recorded. If someone comes onto the property when you are not home and steals something, then you will have a video record showing the perpetrator;

● Never let strangers, such as service technicians, in your home without checking their identification. Always call all their company if you are not sure;

● Install a viewer (peep hole) in your door and use it;

● Use only your first initial in phone books, directories, and apartment lobbies;

● Don’t rely on flyers dropped off at your home by people allegedly offering services. It could be a way of them getting into your home to see what you own and then they can come back at a later time to burglarize the home;

● If living alone, don’t advertise it, especially on social media outlets;

● Be sensible about keys and don’t put an address tag on your key ring and don’t hide an extra key under a doormat or flower pot; and

● Hang up immediately on harassing or obscene phone calls - if the caller persists, call law enforcement and the phone company.

Being crime prevention conscious does not just relate to homes and property.

According to law enforcement officials, there are a few things seniors and others should do when driving their vehicles. They include: always lock the car doors and keep the windows up while operating vehicles because if stopped at an light or stop sign, a would-be carjacker could jump into the vehicle and either hurt you or steal the vehicle; never leave keys in the ignition when getting out of the car, even for only a few minutes; park in well-lighted busy areas; don’t leave packages or other tempting articles in view in a car - lock them in the trunk; never pick up hitchhikers; and if experiencing car problems, be especially wary of strangers who offer help and stay in the locked car. Ask them (without rolling down the window) to call a service truck and/or law enforcement.

A few additional safety-conscious tips seniors should exercise is:

● Engrave all valuables with a unique identification number;

● Keep bonds, stock certificates, seldom worn jewelry, and stamp and coin collections in a safe deposit box;

● For an extra measure of protection, don’t keep large amounts of cash at home;

● Use direct deposit for Social Security or pension checks;

● Never leave delivered mail in the mailbox overnight and never place an outgoing letter in the mailbox the night before pick up. Unscrupulous individuals have a habit of driving through the areas at night and stealing mail; and

● Keep emergency numbers for police and fire agencies handy.

If interested, contact the law enforcement agency in your area and ask if they would come and give a presentation your group of residents about crime prevention and how to go about implementing a neighborhood watch for their area.

Remember it is better to exercise good crime prevention and be safe instead of being sorry that someone stole your property.