Crime and the fear of crime can create problems for our seniors. Crime prevention is everyone's responsibility. Seniors can better protect themselves from crime by following these simple, commonsense suggestions. Share these tips with your neighbors and friends, to make it tough for criminals to work in your neighborhood. Working together there is much we can accomplish. We want to make McCracken County a safer place to live and raise our families while making it impossible for the criminal element to ever become comfortable.
Sheriff Matt Carter
AT HOME . . .
• Be cautious of opening your door automatically. Install/use a peephole if possible. Another option is to have a locked storm door between you and the visitor at your door. This will help prevent someone from entering your home before you can determine who they are and why they are at your home.
• Lock your doors and windows. (Three quarters of the burglaries when seniors are targeted involved unlocked doors and windows; and, less than one half of these burglaries are reported.) Keep your garage and vehicle doors locked.
• Vary your daily routine if possible.
• Use "Neighbor Watch" to keep an eye on your neighborhood. A concerned neighbor is often the best protection against crime because suspicious persons and activities are noticed and reported to law enforcement promptly.
• Leave lights on when away at night; use a timer to turn lights on and off when you are away for an extended period if possible.
• Notify trustworthy neighbors and or family members when going away on a trip. Cancel deliveries such as newspapers and arrange for someone - a neighbor's child, perhaps - to mow the lawn if need be. Arrange for your mail to be held by the Post Office, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you.
• Be wary of unsolicited offers to make repairs to your home. Deal only with reputable businesses or persons.
• Keep an inventory with serial numbers and photographs of valuables. Leave copies in a safe place or with a trusted family member. (An A.C.T. worksheet is attached for your convenience).
• Don't hesitate to report crime or suspicious activities.
• Install deadbolt locks on all your doors.
• Keep your home well-lit at night, inside and out; keep curtains closed.
• Ask for proper identification from delivery persons or strangers. Don't be afraid of asking . . . if they are legitimate they won't mind.
• Avoid allowing a stranger to use your telephone.
• Never let a stranger into your home Do not leave notes on your door when you are gone, and do not hide your keys under the mat or in other conspicuous places.
• Never give out information over the phone indicating you are alone or that you won't be home at a certain time.
• When you are gone for more than a day, try to make sure your home looks occupied . . . use an automatic timer to turn on lights, radio or TV.
• If you arrive at home and suspect a stranger may be inside, DON'T GO IN. Leave quietly and call 911 to report the crime.
WALKING . . .
• Avoid walking alone at night. Try to have a friend accompany you . . . even during the daytime.
• Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Walk confidently.
• Have your key ready when approaching your front door.
• Don't dangle your purse away from your body. (Twelve percent of all crimes against the elderly are purse snatchings).
• Don't carry large, bulky shoulder bags; carry only what you need. Better yet, sew a small pocket inside your jacket or coat. If you don't have a purse, no one will try to snatch it.
WHILE SHOPPING . . .
• Carry your purse very close to you . . . don't dangle it from your arm. Never leave your purse in a shopping cart. Never leave your purse unattended.
• Don't carry any more cash than is necessary. Many grocery stores now accept checks and automatic debit cards instead of cash.
• Don't display large sums of cash.
• Use checks where possible.
IN YOUR CAR . . .
• Always keep your car doors locked, whether you are in or out of your car. Keep your gas tank full and your engine properly maintained to avoid breakdowns.
• If your car breaks down, pull over to the right as far as possible, raise the hood, and wait INSIDE the car for help.
• Don't leave your purse on the seat beside you; put it on the floor, where it is more difficult for someone to grab it.
• Lock bundles or bags in the trunk. If interesting packages are out of sight, a thief will be less tempted to break in to steal them.
• Never pick up hitchhikers.
BANKING . . .
• Many criminals know exactly when government checks arrive each month, and may pick that day to attack. Avoid this by using Direct Deposit, which sends your money directly from the government to the bank of your choice. And, at many banks, free checking accounts are available to senior citizens. Your bank has all the information.
• Never withdraw money from your bank accounts for anyone except YOURSELF. Be wary of con artists and get-rich schemes that probably are too-good-to-be- true.
• You should store valuables in a Safe Deposit Box.
• Never give your money to someone who calls on you, identifying himself as a bank official. A bank will never ask you to remove your money. Banks need the use of your money, and they don't want one of their customers to invite crime by having large amounts of cash around.
• When someone approaches you with a get-rich-quick-scheme involving some or all of YOUR savings, it is HIS get-rich-quick-scheme. If it is a legitimate investment, the opportunity to contribute your funds will still be there tomorrow-after you have had time to consider it and discussed the opportunity with family members or trusted friends.
• If you have been swindled or conned, report the crime to your local law enforcement. Con-artists count on their victim's reluctance to admit they've been scammed, but if you delay you help them get away. Remember, if you never report the crime, they are free to cheat others again and again and you have no chance of ever getting your money back.
Consider signing up for "Informed Delivery" available through the US Postal Service. With this free service you will receive notification from the postal service about what is scheduled to be delivered to your home.
NEVER give personal information out to anyone on the phone or internet.
We hope some of these tips and guidelines will help prevent you from falling victim to the various crimes that can sometimes target our seniors. If we at the McCracken County Sheriff's Office can ever be of any assistance please call us at (270) 444-4719.