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Tips for Seniors

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Seniors can help to protect themselves from crime by following these simple, common-sense, suggestions. Share these tips with neighbors and friends, too, and make it tough for criminals to work in our community.

Make Your Home Safe and Secure
  • Be sure your house number is highly visible and easily read so your home can be found quickly by police, fire or medical personnel.
  • Install dead-bolt locks on all doors, and keep all doors and windows securely locked.
  • Do not hide extra keys outside in mailboxes or planters, under doormats, or in other obvious places where thieves are sure to look. Instead, leave an extra set of keys with a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • If you can, install a wide-angle viewer in all entrance doors to your home.
    Keep your home well lit at night, inside and out, and keep your curtains closed at night.
    Consider a home alarm system that provides monitoring for burglary, fire, and medical emergencies.
  • Keep valuables out of sight, so they cannot be easily seen by outsiders through a door or window.
  • Do not tempt thieves by leaving valuable items outside the house. Put things like bicycles, ladders, lawn mowers and garden tools safely away when not in use. Consider storing unused valuables like expensive jewelry in a safe deposit box.
  • Keep trees and bushes around your home neatly trimmed with plenty of open space so would-be burglars cannot use the foliage in your yard for cover.
  • Keep an inventory with serial numbers and photographs of major appliances, electronics, antiques, and furniture in case they are stolen. Leave copies in a safe place. 
  • Leave lights on when going out at night; use a timer to turn lights on and off when you are away for an extended period.
  • Notify trusted neighbors when going away on a trip.
  • Never give out information to strangers indicating you are alone or that you won’t be home at a certain time.
  • When you are gone for more than a day, make sure your home looks and sounds occupied — use automatic timers to turn on lights and a radio or television.
  • When you are away remember to 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.
  • 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. Contact your bank for more information.
  • More home safety tips

Strangers at the Door

  • Never let a stranger into your home.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking service, delivery, or utility personnel for identification — if they are legitimate they won’t mind. They should have a legitimate reason for entering your home. If in doubt, you can call their company for verification.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers to make repairs to your home. Deal only with reputable businesses. More information about solicitors and about obtaining your own “No Soliciting” sign from the Manhattan Beach Police Department.
  • If a stranger asks to use your telephone, offer to place the call for him/her yourself.
  • 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.
  • Trust your instincts and don't hesitate to report any activity which you feel may be suspicious by calling the Manhattan Beach Police Department dispatch at (310) 545-4566.

Be Alert When Out and About

  • Carry purses securely against your body, not hanging loosely by the straps. Wallets should be tucked safely away in inside coat pockets or pants front pockets. Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewelry that will attract attackers.
  • Never leave your purse in a shopping cart.
  • Don't display large sums of cash, and don’t carry more cash than is necessary. Many grocery stores now accept checks and automatic teller cards instead of cash.
  • Avoid walking alone at night. Have a companion accompany you — even during the daytime. Muggers and other predators in the street always look for the easiest and most vulnerable mark. Do not let it be you. There is safety in numbers!
  • Sit close to the driver or near the exit while riding the bus, train, or subway. If someone or something makes you uneasy, trust your instincts and leave.
  • If you are attacked on the street, make as much noise as possible by calling for help or blowing a whistle. Do not pursue your attacker. Call 911 and report the crime as soon as possible.
  • Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Walk confidently and in well-lit areas.
  • Have your key ready when approaching your front door.

In your car...

  • Always park your car in high visibility, well-lit spaces. 
  • Keep your gas tank full and your engine properly maintained to avoid breakdowns. 
  • Always lock your car doors, even when you’re inside, and keep your windows rolled up. 
  • Lock packages and other valuables in the trunk. Do not leave them on the back seat or on the floor of the car where potential thieves can see them. If interesting packages are out of sight, a thief will be less tempted to break in.
  • When you return to your car, check the front and back seat before you get in.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If your car breaks down, pull over to the right as far as possible, raise the hood, and wait inside the car for help. Do not get out of the car or roll down the window until the police arrive.

Medical Alert

  • Keep the following information with you at all times: Doctor’s name and phone number, medications, allergies, nearest relative’s name and any other personal information that may be needed in an emergency.

Solicitations & Scams – Watch Out for Con Artists

If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Do not fall for it. What should you watch out for?

  • Watch out for “free” vacations, sweepstakes, prizes, miracle cures and investment schemes promising high returns for little money.
  • Be wary of salespeople who call you to solicit business.
  • Never give your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or bank account number to anyone over the phone. It's illegal for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a prize or gift.
  • Beware of individuals claiming to represent companies, consumer organizations, or government agencies that offer to recover lost money for a fee.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don't let anyone rush you into signing anything - an insurance policy, a sales agreement, a contract. Read it carefully and have someone you trust check it over.
  • If you're suspicious, check it out with the Police Department or the Better Business Bureau.

If you have been swindled or conned, report the crime to your local police department. Con artists count on their victim’s reluctance to admit they’ve been duped, 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.

Getting Involved in the Community

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