Seniors tend to be an easy target for criminals. Scams, fraud, and financial abuse are the first things that come to mind when I think of crimes against seniors. Unfortunately, seniors and their homes tend to be targeted as well. Even though they are the least victimized population, seniors have a higher rate of fear of being victimized, which can lead to isolation and a sense of loneliness.
Seniors may be easily targeted by criminals for a variety of reasons:
- Seniors who live on their own may be isolated and not communicating daily with the outside world
- Decline in cognitive and physical function make seniors vulnerable
- Older seniors often aren't in touch with innovations, such as home security systems, which makes the home easily accessible to criminals
Property crime is the second most common type of crime against seniors. Property crimes includes burglary, larceny, auto theft, and petty theft. So, in order to prevent, or at least lower the number of personal property crimes against seniors, we have come up with some home rules that seniors (and every homeowner!) should implement as a part of their everyday life.
Basic Home Security Protection
- Lock your doors, no matter how safe the neighborhood is: Regardless of the type of neighborhood you live in, all doors should be locked. This doesn’t mean you should be paranoid and live in fear, but locking the doors falls into that old saying ‘better safe than sorry’.
- Make sure your door has a peephole: Decorative door glass looks great, but it isn't really safe. Anyone can see you moving inside and the glass is easily broken. If installing a peephole isn't possible, and you have decorative glass, use privacy film on the glass and replace your standard glass with unbreakable “safety” glass.
- Solid Doors: If you are just installing your door, choose solid wood or metal for both your front and back door (and any other door that leads into the house). The frame of the door is the most important element of any door so have the current one reinforced or have a metal one installed.
- Don’t neglect windows: Plexiglass or security film should be placed on the inside for better protection; they increase safety and make it more difficult for the glass to be broken.
- Do you have gates?: Make sure all gates are locked when you are alone at the house; for all those who should enter – they can call to say they’re coming. Don’t buzz in anyone you don’t know.
- Keep phone close by: Whenever someone comes to the door, have a wireless phone with you so you can call 911 in case of an emergency
- Keys: No matter for how long you are leaving the house for, never leave the key under the mat or in a flower pot, or in an old shoe (or any other place of that matter). Give a copy to a member of the family and a trustworthy neighbor to check in on your apartment/house from time to time.
- Home Security System: The foundation of any home safety plan is a good Home Security System. They are great as prevention from thieves, but an amazing support for medical emergencies and fires, too. If you live alone and/or plan on spending a period of your retirement traveling, then a home security system is a must.
- Sensor Lighting: Whenever someone is at the door or in the yard, you’ll know when the lights go on. They are also great prevention from vandalism, too. If you live in a condo or apartment building, have sensor lighting installed in hallways and shared entry points.
- Travel: Have a trusted neighbor or family member pick up newspapers and packages while you are away.
- Security Survey: Many police departments will perform a home security survey when requested by the homeowner.
If you have experience with a home security system, we would love to hear about it in the comments section below!