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Crime Tips for Seniors Stay Safe

It's everyone's business to prevent crime, not just for the cops. Use common sense tips like keeping doors locked, joining neighborhood watches, and going to the store with a friend can all help prevent crime. Although older people often fear crime the most, statistically they are at low risk. The following tips help you reduce your risk of being a crime victim.

These common-sense actions also empower you by building confidence in your ability to protect yourself and be independent: Your Neighbors - Your First Line of Defense -Work out a buddy system with a neighbor. Check on each other every day. -Let neighbors know when you go on a trip so they can watch out for your house or apartment. Return the favor when they go away. -Join a neighborhood watch program. When You Are Home: -Lock your doors and windows! Get good locks and use them.

Exterior doors-deadbolt lock. Sliding doors-special lock or broom handle in door track. Windows- good lock or pins for all accessible windows. -Light up your property! Insure all your porches, entryways and yard have adequate lighting. Put timers on your lights for when you come home after dark.

-Use a door peep hole lens to see people knocking at your door. -Get an alarm that you can put across your driveway to alert you when someone drives in. -Require salesmen and service people to provide you with identification before you let them in your house. You can always call someone's employer for verification.

-Be sensible about keys. Don't put an address tag on your key ring, and don't hide an extra key under a door­mat or flower pot. -Hang up immediately on harassing or obscene phone calls.

If the caller won't leave you alone, call police and the phone company. -For an extra measure of protection: Don't keep large amounts of cash at home. -Use Direct Deposit for Social Security or pension checks.

-Call 911 if you need the police, fire, or paramedics. -Mark valuable property like televisions, VCRs, cameras with an Operation Identification number. If you suspect a burglar has broken into your home, don't go in. Go to your next-door neighbor and call 911.

When You Are Out: -Keep alert and aware of what is going on around you. Don't daydream. -Go out with a friend whenever possible. -When you walk- look relaxed and confident. -Trust your instincts. If something makes you feel unsafe - leave.

-Try carrying a small change purse with only the money or credit cards that you need, instead of a large hand­bag with straps. Keep your wallet in an inside jacket or front pants pocket. -Don't burden yourself with packages, and don't wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.

-Walk on well-lighted, busy streets. Stay away from vacant lots, alleys, or construction sites. -Avoid displaying large amounts of cash or other tempting targets, such as expensive jewelry.

-If somebody takes your purse or a package, stay balanced, move away and yell for help. -Keep a can of pepper spray for protection. When waiting for the bus, only choose well-lighted stops. -Don't fall asleep. Stay alert! -Watch who gets on or off the bus with you.

If you feel uneasy, walk directly to a place where there are other people, or sit near the driver. When Driving Your Car: -Always lock your car doors. Never leave keys in the ignition when you leave the car, even for a few minutes. -When you drive, keep the doors locked and windows up. Park in well-lighted, busy areas.

-Always know how to get where you are going before you leave. -Don't leave valuables visible to view in your locked vehicle. Lock them in the trunk. -Never, never pick up hitchhikers.

-If you have car problems, be espe­cially wary of strangers who offer help. Stay in the car and ask them to call a service truck and the police. -Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times.

Don't Be Fooled by Con Men: Con artists prey on older people who worry about insurance, investments, and maintaining their homes. Regardless of how nice and polite someone may seem, be suspicious of any proposal that sounds too good to be true, has to be kept secret, or requires immediate cash. Call the Better Business Bureau or the police.

Be especially wary of: -"Get rich quick" opportunities or schemes for which you have to put up good-faith money. -Bargains on home repairs or improve­ments; -Investments that promise unusually high returns; -Someone claiming you owe money for an item ordered by a deceased relative; -Door to door salesmen, work from home scams, phone solicitors, health insurance offers, health cures, too-cheap glasses and hearing aids from unknown callers, charities you've never heard of. Here are some facts about security and seniors: People over 65 actually have a lower crime rate for most types of crimes compared to other age groups, except for purse snatching. Everyone fears violent crime, but those types of crimes are the least likely to happen. Most murders and assaults are committed by relatives or friends, not by strangers. Statistics aside, when older people are victimized-even by a minor crime- effects can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating.

If you are the victim of a crime, help is just a phone call away. Call 911 to report all crime, no matter how minor or embarrassing. They can link you up with victim service agencies, the district attorney's office, and other agencies whose staff are there to help you.

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