Many elderly citizens in both large cities and rural communities share a common fear, the fear of becoming a victim of crime. Many different forms of crimes occur against elderly citizens, many of whom are afraid to venture out of their own homes for fear of being victimized either physically or financially.
Many elderly citizens become victims of crime because they lack the knowledge they need to protect themselves. Many services and activities are available for seniors to make them feel less vulnerable and to educate them on how not to become victim of crime.
- Apartment building security should not be left up to each individual tenant. In order for security to be effective, the residents of that area must work as a group striving for the same goal, which is to feel safe in your home.
- Does your entry door have a deadbolt lock and peephole?
- Does your sliding glass door have a wooden rod in the track so it can’t be opened, and pins in the overhead frame so it can’t be lifted out?
- Does your landlord or building manager tightly control all keys?
- Does your window have a good secure lock?
For extra security, leave a radio playing or a light on while you are gone. Always tell neighbours and the building manager when you will be away for a few days. When moving to a new apartment, keep in mind that the previous tenant may or may not have turned in all their keys. Ask to have the lock cylinders changed.
- Is there some kind of control over who enters and leaves the building?
- Are walkways, entrances, parking areas, elevators, hallways, stairways, laundry rooms and storage areas well lit 24 hours a day?
- Are fire stairs locked from the stairwell side above the ground floor so you can exit but no one can enter?
- Are mailboxes in a well-travelled, well lit area and do they have good locks?
- Are things well maintained? Are burned out lights fixed promptly, hallways kept clean and heat sensors and smoke detectors in good working order? Is trash removed and walkways kept clear of snow?
- Get to know your neighbours. Join or organize an Apartment Watch group so neighbours can look out for and help each other. There is a great deal of peace of mind in knowing that someone else is watching out for you. People who live alone will not feel as vulnerable and isolated.
- Know your neighbours habits and obtain assistance if you think something may have happened to them, for example you notice newspapers/mail piling up or you haven’t seen someone in several days and know they are not supposed to be away from the residence.
When someone buzzes your apartment, always check the identity of the person before buzzing them in. Do not divulge your gender or approximate age on calling boards. Identify yourself by your initials only, and never advertise that you are living alone. Never open the door without checking to see who is there first. Check with your superintendent first when someone asks to enter your apartment to check appliances or other equipment, and ask to see an identity card.
Many laundry facilities are located in the basement of the building. Victimization of any sort has a high probability of happening in this area. Do not do laundry late in the evening when there is little traffic and you are likely to be alone.
If you have underground parking, always be aware of suspicious looking vehicles or persons. Be alert if a vehicle is suddenly following you into the parking facility. Report anything you find suspicious to the Superintendent or the police. Keep your vehicle locked at all times, and never leave valuables where they can be seen.
The general appearance of your home can be an invitation or a deterrent to criminals. An empty home is a vulnerable home. Do not advertise your absence.
- Stop all newspaper deliveries to your home and have a friend collect all mail and flyers during your absence.
- Make arrangements for someone to mow your lawn or shovel your walk depending on the season.
- Have a neighbour with two cars park an extra vehicle in your driveway during your absence if possible. A parked car gives the impression that someone is home.
- Don’t announce your absence on your telephone answering machine.
- Keep your lights on a timer system. A well-lit home signifies an occupied home.
- Have a trusted friend or neighbour adjust your drapes and shades.
The landscaping around your house may also be an invitation or a deterrent.
- Keep shrubs around windows and doors trimmed low. This deprives the crook of the ground cover he needs while working.
- Plant thorny shrubs under windows.
- Locate large trees away from the house so they can’t be climbed to gain entry to second storey windows.
- Keep your garage closed and locked to prevent burglars from using your own tools to aid them in breaking into your home.
- Make sure your home number is visible for emergency vehicles.
- Be discreet about messages you leave on your answering machine.
- Never leaves keys in a “hiding place” like under the doormat. If necessary, leave a spare key with a trusted neighbour or friend.
- Install a peep hole in your door and a light outside. These allow you to see who is there without opening the door.
- Invest in motion sensor lights and a good security system.
- Get a barking dog or “beware of dog” signs.
- Be sure your garage door is closed and locked.
- Make sure all doors and windows are secured with the appropriate locking devices.
- Always double check the doors and windows to be sure they are locked.
- Call the police immediately if you believe someone is trying to gain entry to your home, don’t “wait and see”.