Police offer safety tips for seniors regarding scams and break-ins

By Rachel Hill - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Fri., May. 6, 2011
Captain Kelvan Kearse of the Windsor Police Department gave a presentation on safety for seniors. Photo by Rachel Hill.
Captain Kelvan Kearse of the Windsor Police Department gave a presentation on safety for seniors. Photo by Rachel Hill.

Criminal scams designed to part you from your money have gotten pretty elaborate these days, and oftentimes senior citizens are the targets. In order to protect yourself, it’s important to be aware of the latest scams and how you can avoid becoming the victim of a crime.

Captain Kelvan Kearse and Lt. Mark Francis of the Windsor Police Department gave a talk about senior safety April 26 at the Windsor Senior Center. Relaying up-to-date information and answering questions, Kearse and Francis had the inside story on all the different scams that take place in this day and age, and how simply being informed can take you out of the equation when it comes to being a target for this type of criminal activity.

According to the WPD, the most common scam is someone showing up at your house with an offer to repave your driveway. The motive here is to engross you in conversation, thereby distracting you while a second person sneaks in your house to steal money, checks and credit cards. “They’re very good at what they do,” warned Kearse. Simply keeping your doors locked is one way to stay safe, even if you’re just out doing something like yard work. Also, carrying a cell phone may allow you to make a fast phone call, or even take a photo or recording. 

Another typical scam to watch out for is one in which a person identifies himself as a meter reader or cable television worker. If you haven’t made an appointment to have work done in your home and someone just shows up on your doorstep, don’t let them in. He or she might try to show you identification, but with today’s technology, it may be fake. Never call the phone number on the card they give you. Instead, look up the number yourself. Kearse said, “Answer your door, but don’t open it.”

There are also many phone scams out there that hone in on senior citizens and their sometimes trusting nature. Kearse and Francis explained one scam in which an individual will call and tell you that your grandson or granddaughter has been arrested and jailed. They identify themselves as a friend and say that your family member cannot make a phone call, then ask you to send some money as bail.

Kearse also spoke about another phone scam in which the caller says they are with the Canadian lottery commission. If someone asks you to send them tax money, conveyance fees or anything of this nature, turn them down and report it to the police.

Many times these kinds of things go unreported. “People are often reluctant to call the police. Just know that our office never closes,” said Kearse.

Francis added, “Don’t be afraid to call. We don’t mind if you’re wrong.” Both officers recommend keeping the routine phone number for the police station handy.

In terms of protecting your home from break-ins as a senior, Kearse recommends something as simple as leaving out a basketball or football, even a pair of athletic sneakers that would possibly alert a criminal that someone younger lives at that address, too. “It throws them off,” said Kearse. This will serve to make your home look less inviting and they may decide to move on.

Another good tip is to leave your blinds down when you’re not home to avoid what Kearse and Francis called criminal “window shopping.” Also, you may wish to install pins in your window panes so the windows will only open 6 inches.

“Don’t take chances, and trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. There’s got to be a catch. Be cautious as a rule and leery of people bearing gifts,” said Kearse.

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