July Safety Tip

Although surveys consistently show that persons over 65 are victims of crime far less frequently than young people, many senior citizens are so worried about crime that they shut themselves up in their homes and rarely go out. But isolating ourselves behind locked doors, not getting together with our neighbors, actually makes it easier for criminals to work in the neighborhood.

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

WHEN YOU'RE OUT:

If you must carry a purse, hold it close to your body. Don't dangle it! You might even want to use a fanny pack.

Try not to carry a wallet in your back pocket. If at all possible, carry it in your front pants or jacket pocket.

Tell a friend or loved one where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Avoid dark, deserted places, even if they're the shortest distance.

Carry change for emergency telephone and transportation use.

When possible, travel with friends to stores, the bank, or the doctor. Check with your police or sheriff, or senior citizen center about escort services.

When using public transportation, sit near the driver if possible.

Don't 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 shriek alarm. In some areas, community groups offer free alarms to seniors.

When you drive, keep doors locked and windows in the up position. Park in well-lighted areas. If you have car trouble, be wary of strangers who pose as helpers. Stay in your car and ask them to call a service vehicle or the police.

If someone takes you home, have them wait until you are safely inside your home or apartment.

Communicate the message that you are calm and in control of your surroundings at all times. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, LEAVE!

Try and leave a light on or a radio playing when away from home. This may scare off a would-be thief. Remember that a thief likes it dark and quiet.

WHEN YOU ARE AT HOME:

Keep your doors and windows locked at all times. Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.

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

Never let strangers into your home without first checking their identification. Call their company if you're not sure and get a positive I.D. of that person.

Install a peephole. You might even install two on your door at different heights, one for you and one for your children.

If you live alone, don't advertise it. Use only your first initial in phone books, directories, and apartment lobbies.

Most importantly, get to know your neighbors and keep their phone numbers handy for emergencies.

Put your personal identification number on your valuables, i.e., social security number.

Keep valuables inside a safe deposit box.

Don't hide spare house keys around the outside of your house such as doormats or other obvious spots. Give a spare key to a trusted neighbor or dear friend.

According to the A.A.R.P., older citizens are victims of fraudulent schemes are 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. Don't rush into anything. Check it out with friends, lawyers, the police department, Better Business Bureau, and your State or County Consumer Affairs Department.

BE WARY OF:

 "Get rich quick" schemes for which you have to put up "good faith" money.

 "Good deals" on expensive repair or home improvement jobs.

 Investments that promise unusually large returns.

 Someone claiming that you owe money for an item ordered by a deceased spouse or relative.

 Work at home schemes, door-to-door sales, supplemental Medicare insurance, miracle cures, glasses and hearing aids at bargain prices.

 If you are the victims of fraud, call the Jackson Police or your local Police immediately. You may be embarrassed because you were tricked, but your information is vital in catching the con artist and preventing other from being victimized.

REMEMBER:

Crime prevention is everyone's responsibility, not just a job for the police. Crime can be reduced by simple measures like remembering to lock a door, knowing about common con games, and watching out for your neighborhood.