By Sgt Nathalie Ranger
SENIOR citizens continue to be the fastest growing segment of our population and that makes them a prime target for con artists and thieves.
One of the best ways to take an active part in crime prevention is to become more alert and aware of what is going on around you. Crimes against senior citizens can be reduced by following some simple measures like locking your doors, watching out for your neighbours and keeping your personal information secure.
Seniors are often targets as criminals focus on their vulnerabilities. It is important to remember you can avoid becoming the victim of an illegal scheme or scam by simply refusing to participate.
Protect Yourself and Your Home
We all need and want a feeling of security in the safety of our homes. Your home should be a safe haven. Most burglaries occur during daylight hours and many intruders gain access through open or poorly secured doors and windows.
Here are some precautions you can take to keep you and your home safe.
• Install solid, easy-to-use locks on your doors and windows, including sliders and garage.
• Use deadbolt locks on all the doors.
• Do not hide extra keys under the doormats or in planters, etc. leave an extra set with a neighbour or friend. Install a peephole and make sure you use it.
• Never open the door to strangers. If a stranger asks to use your phone, offer to make the call for them.
• Ask service technicians or care providers you do not know for ID before you open the door.
• Trim trees and shrubs to eliminate hiding places.
• Keep your home well lit at night, inside and out.
• Draw the curtains and blinds at night.
• Engrave your valuables. Do not use your Social Security number and list their serial numbers and description.
• Keep floors clean and uncluttered.
• Illuminate work areas.
• Mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances clearly and with bright colours.
• Store sharp knives in a rack.
• Use a kettle with an automatic shut-off.
• Store heavier objects at waist level.
• Store hazardous items separate from food.
• Avoid wearing long, loose clothing when cooking over the stove.
• Make sure food is rotated regularly and check expiration dates.
• Review your medicines frequently with your doctor or pharmacist and when you take new medication.
• Make sure medicines are clearly labeled.
• Read medicine labels in good light to ensure you have the right medicine and always take the correct dose.
• Dispose of any old or used medicines.
• Never borrow prescription drugs from others.
• Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you mix alcohol and your drugs.
• Have medication dispensed in a bubble pack or convenient dispenser.
• Check with your doctor or pharmacist before mixing non-prescription drugs and prescription drugs.
Protect Yourself in the Community
As our population ages and the number of senior citizens continues to increase, seniors have more opportunities to participate in civic groups, health programmes, travel activities and entertainment.
Use these tips to increase your personal security in the community.
• Do your activities in pairs, have a companion for shopping, walking, etc.
• Carry a small purse or bag, not one with a strap that can easily be cut or grabbed.
• Carry your purse close to your body.
• Do not carry credit cards you do not need or large amounts of cash. Contact your bank about free direct deposit of your government cheque. Criminals are keenly aware of when government cheques arrive.
• When taking public transportation sit near the driver or close to an exit.
• If possible, ask the driver to watch until you are safely in the house.
• Always keep the doors and windows locked in your car.
• Do not leave your purse or packages on the seat beside you, put them on the floor or in your trunk.
• Travel well lit streets and plan your route. Be aware of your surroundings.
• When returning to your car check the front and back seats before entering.
• Never pick up hitchhikers.
Protect Yourself against Fraud and Scams
Seniors are often targets as criminals focus on their vulnerabilities.
Here are some guidelines to help ensure the safety of your assets.
• Never give out your Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers.
• Destroy personal information on documents before discarding them, use a shredder if possible
• Do not fall for things that sound too good to be true money, vacations, sweepstakes prizes, health cures, or low risk/high yield investment schemes.
• Do not agree to any home improvement or sales contract until you verify the existence and reputation of the business. Be sure all contractors you hire are licensed, bonded and insured.
• Have a lawyer or someone you trust examine any document before you sign it.
• Do not give money to a charitable organisation until you verify its legitimacy.
• Never send cash in the mail, or allow anyone to pick up a cheque at your home.
LET US CREATE SAFER COMMUNITIES
Visit the Royal Bahamas Police Force website at royalbahamaspolice.org or Facebook page at facebook.com/rbpforce for latest news, crime reports and additional crime prevention tips