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Elderly Home Crimes on the Rise - Important Home Security and Safety Tips for Senior Citizens

In recent years, the increase in elderly crime has been the subject of many local and national news stories. From elderly abuse and neglect to home invasions and fraud, new studies are revealing just how vulnerable senior citizens in the U.S. are to opportunistic criminals.

While no one knows for sure how many home crimes involve the elderly, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) gives us a glimpse of just how serious this problem has become for senior citizens. According to their Crimes Against the Elderly Report for 2009 through 2011:

  • Crimes against elderly citizens aged 65 and over have steadily increased.
  • Despite a 5% decrease in total crime victims in 2009 to 2011, the total number of victims age 65 and older who experienced a crime during that time period increased by 7%.
  • The most common crime reported by the elderly is burglary, followed by vandalism (destruction of property), and theft.
  • Approximately 1 out of every 10 burglaries in Tennessee involves a resident age 65 and older.
  • Over 90% of burglaries and 46% of robberies (theft) involving the elderly occur at the victim's home.

Elderly Residents at Increased Risk of Home Crimes

Decreased physical capacities, a need to rely on others for care, and an overall trusting nature make elderly people easy prey for heartless predators. While most people can't imagine taking advantage of the frailties of an elderly person, criminals see them as opportunities for self-gain.

Such a case can be seen in a recent home invasion involving an 86-year-old woman in Palatine, Illinois. According to the Patch.com news report, a 32-year-old man forced his way into the elderly victim's home after attempting to convince her that her home needed repairs. Once inside the home, the thug physically assaulted her.

In another report out of Des Moines, Iowa, an elderly couple was physically attacked after a young man forced his way into their home in the early evening hours. While the 94-year-old woman survived, her 97-year-old husband died at the hospital.

As infuriating as it is to read elderly crime news reports, as a home security expert with over 20 years of experience, it is my job to keep abreast of such crimes and educate the public. Considering that the U.S. population is only growing older, it is important for senior citizens to learn how to protect themselves.

While I can't address every home security precaution senior citizens should incorporate into their lives in this article, the following are those that rank highest on my list.

Effective Home Security Devices for the Elderly

Home security doesn't have to be highly technical or expensive. There are a number of quality devices on the market that are simple, effective, and affordable. The following are four home security devices no elderly homeowner should be without.

  • Home Alarm System with Wireless Panic Button. A home alarm system with a wireless panic button is a necessity for every home. But for elderly residents, this home security device can be a lifesaver in more ways than one. When worn around the neck on a lanyard, the button can be pushed at any time you are in distress. When the panic button is pushed, a high priority alert is sent to the monitoring station, which quickly summons the police to your home. The panic button can even be worn while getting the mail or taking out the garbage. As you can see from today's news reports, home invasions involving elderly residents is on the rise. This makes it all the more important to ensure you activate your alarm system not only when you leave, but also when you are at home—24/7. The same holds true for your wireless panic button—keep it on you at all times.
  • Security Door Brace. A security door brace is an inexpensive home security device that can prevent forcible entries through main entry doors. Even when your front door is locked with a deadbolt, intruders can muscle their way through it with a few kicks or body slams. To protect yourself, have a heavy duty security door brace installed on your front door and other entry doors that swing inward (meaning when you are inside your home, you have to pull the door toward you to open it).
  • Glass Security Film. Glass security film makes glass difficult to break, even when struck by a baseball bat. In addition to being an effective preventive device, glass security film can provide you with the time you need to call the police and seek safety during an attempted break-in. Glass security film should be installed on ALL ground-level windows and sliding glass doors. Vulnerable upper-floor windows and glass doors such as those near a balcony, patio, tree, wall, or shed should also be protected.
  • Wireless Surveillance System. A wireless surveillance system can provide you with early warning the moment a would-be intruder sets foot on your property. You can also see who's at your door without having to get up from your chair. For a wireless surveillance system to be effective, it needs to be equipped with a portable LCD monitor for easy viewing of the camera footage from any room in your home. Other important features to look for include easy plug-and-play technology, night vision, and a DVR (for recording of video footage).

Important Home Security & Safety Tips for the Elderly

A common theme among today's elderly home crime reports is the trusting nature of the victims and their false sense of security when at home. Keep in mind that criminals see senior citizens as easy prey. To avoid such predators, it is important to incorporate the following home security & safety measures into your everyday life.

  • Never answer the door to a stranger. Even if a person in an official-looking uniform knocks at your door, don't open it. If you didn't ask them to come to your home, consider them an uninvited guest. It is safer to assume the person at your door has their best interest at heart, not your own. You have nothing to lose if you ignore them or tell them to go away. If it's a police officer, ask for their name and badge number then call the police station to verify that the person standing at your door is, in fact, that person. You have everything to lose if you assume a stranger is trustworthy and you turn out to be wrong. Criminals prey on the frailties of the elderly, and many of them have no problem walking right up to your door.
  • Keep your doors and windows securely locked at ALL times. While this may sound extreme, if you read through the home crime reports that involve elderly residents, you'll see that most of the intruders entered their victims' homes through an unlocked door or window. If you enjoy allowing the outdoor air in through a screen door or window while you are home, be aware of the hazards, especially if you live in a high-crime area.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when leaving and arriving at your home. While some criminals prefer to wait until the resident leaves before breaking into a home, other more brazen criminals have no problem carrying out their crimes in the presence of their victims. In fact, some criminals plan surprise attacks on their victims, during which they hide and wait for residents to arrive home. As a senior citizen who carries a high risk of succumbing to a home invasion or other elderly crime, it is important to remain aware of your surroundings at all times. This means keeping your head up and looking around as you walk to and from your car, check the mail, let the dog out, sit on your front porch, or take a leisurely stroll. If something looks suspicious to you, go back into your home, lock the door, and call the police.

Never Assume Elderly Home Crime Won't Happen to You

As someone who has the opportunity to speak with countless home crime victims, believe me when I tell you that you don't want to wait for one of these frightening crimes to happen to you before putting these home security measures into place. To protect yourself and other elderly friends and loved ones, make home security more than a responsibility—make it a way of life.

Sources:

1. http://files.wmctv.com/crimesagainstelderly.pdf

2. http://patch.com/illinois/palatine/police-seek-home-invasion-suspect-who-battered-elderly-woman#.U_OnSvldWa8

3. http://whotv.com/2014/07/03/elderly-man-killed-in-home-invasion/

Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.

Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:

The American Society for Industrial Security.

The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.

The Society of Professional Locksmiths.

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