No one wants to become the victim of a crime. No matter what your age is, there are steps that you can take to help protect your home and yourself. If you remember to use common sense and never ignoring your instincts, you can help yourself to stay safe and aware wherever you are. Here are five crime prevention tips that seniors can practice every day.
1. Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Paying close attention to your surroundings and avoiding certain situations altogether can make a world of difference. Never walk alone at night, and never go alone to an area that you are unfamiliar with. If you need to go out at night or to a different part of town, have a family member, friend, or neighbor come with you. Keep a cell phone on you at all times, and try to vary your routine. A person who has a predictable daily routine becomes an easier target for criminals like burglars who might take note of when you are not usually home. Whenever you are out, look people in the eye and greet them warmly. Sometimes the best way to deter a petty thief is to acknowledgement that you see him and could recognize his face in the future.
2. If You Feel Uncomfortable, It's Ok to Leave
Always listen to your instincts no matter how embarrassed you may feel. Remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving a situation or an area if you are feeling uncomfortable. Your “fight or flight” instinct is a natural response that exists in order to help keep you safe when dangers are not always as obvious. If an individual makes you feel uncomfortable, it is ok to excuse yourself and head home or to a place where you feel comfortable and safe. If you are in a public area like a mall or park, try finding a policeman or security guard who can walk you to your car or to a different area.
3. Don't Keep Valuables on Your Person
Carry your wallet and identification with you for emergencies, but avoid carrying checks, unnecessary credit cards, or large amounts of cash. Keep enough money on you for an emergency, but nothing more. Keep important documents like social security cards, travelers checks, and valuables in a safety deposit box. Keep copies of important documents in a fireproof, waterproof safe somewhere in your home. When you are walking around in public, never carry your wallet in your back pocket. If you need to have a purse with you, keep it zipped up, and carry it over your shoulder, firmly grasped in one hand.
4. Don't Give Money to Strangers
The best way to avoid becoming the victim of a scam or identity theft is to make it a rule to never give money to strangers. Never respond to emails or phone calls from persons you don’t know asking for money. Do not withdraw money from your bank account for someone else. Do not give anyone else the ability to withdraw money from your account, friends and family included, unless you trust the person completely. If anyone approaches your door asking for money or offering opportunities to invest and make money, kindly turn them away, and report them to the Better Business Bureau or the National Consumers League if you are unsure of their validity. It is much better to err on the side of caution when it comes to individuals you don’t know. If you have already become the victim of a scam or identity theft, report it to your local police department immediately and notify your bank and credit card companies as well.
5. Lock Up and Keep Things Bright
Always keep the doors to your house locked, even when you are home. Keep all other outside doors shut and locked as well, such as garages, sheds, or shelters. At night, keep bright outside lights turned on. Never let strangers into your house when you’re home alone. If you need maintenance or repairs done, try to make sure someone you know and trust is there with you, and keep money and valuables put away and out of sight. If you are going to be out of town for a few days, let your neighbors know. Put a stop on your mail and newspaper delivery services, and ask a friend, family member, or neighbor if they will stop by daily to check on your property. Set your indoor lights on a timer, or give a trusted person a key to your home so your lights can be turned on and off as if you are home.