The following information is provided by A Positive Action Handbook
entitled "
A Senior's Guide to Crime Prevention."  This handbook is
distributed to seniors by the Rocky River Police Department in Rocky
River, Ohio.  The information was shared with the editor of this
website and, therefore, has been included on this web page.  We
are sure that you will find it to be an extremely useful resource.  
Comments in brackets are those of the editor of this site.
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Information That's NOT
Just for Women Only!
Copyright© 2008 WPSN

  1. It's safest to keep your keys in your pocket or purse until you reach your car or home.
    FALSE - It is safest to have your key in hand before you reach your car or home.  Searching for a key can leave you open
    to attack.
  1. It's best not to answer the door at all if you don't know who is there.
    FALSE - Burglars often ring the doorbell to see if anyone is home before attempting to break in.  It's best to respond to
    the doorbell without opening the door.
  1. Don't list your first name in the phone book; give only your initial.
    TRUE - Listing your first name in the directory gives strangers information you may not want them to have.
  1. You should fight a thief to save your money or other valuables.
    FALSE - Your belongings are never as important as your life.  It's best to give them up and hope doing so will save you
    from harm.
  1. A good doorknob lock with a chain lock is all you need on your front and back doors.
    FALSE - a deadbolt lock with at least a 1-inch bolt is the best type of lock to prevent break-ins.
  1. Many police departments will send someone to your home to check out your locks and other safety features.
    TRUE - Many police departments will send someone to advise you about your home's safety features, including locks.
  1. If you come home to find an open door or a broken window or screen, do not go inside.
    TRUE - Never to into a house if a burglar may still be inside.   Go to a neighbor's home [or wherever you will find access
    to a phone] and telephone the police.
  1. It's okay to keep important papers in the car as long as they are locked up in the glove compartment.
    FALSE - Never leave any papers in your car that will help a car thief [by giving more information about you such as your
    home address] or that will cause hardship for you if stolen.

As with all efforts to prevent victimization, seniors must be alert, confident and aware of their surroundings.  As you already know from
this website, the editor of this site highly recommends that everyone carry a cell phone - see additional information about cell phones
for seniors in the section of this website about protection devices.

  1. Use the safest and most direct route.
  2. Travel in the daytime and with one or more people whenever you can.
  3. Avoid wearing valuable jewelry that might tempt a thief.
  4. Carry only the money or credit cards you will need.  Bring change for the bus and for emergency phone calls.  
  5. Carry your wallet in your front pocket or inside jacket pocket.  Or try carrying your money in a money pouch or fanny pack.
  6. If you use a purse, carry it firmly, close to your body and hold onto the clasp.  Place it on your lap when seated and never leave it
  7. When returning home, have your house key in hand before you get to your door.
  8. If someone drives you home, ask them to wait until you are safely inside.
  9. If you see an open door or a broken window or screen, go to a neighbor's house and phone the police.  Do not go into the

  1. Be alert to everything around you and walk confidently.  [Although you may want to keep your eyes on the ground where you are
    walking so as not to trip, try not to keep your head continually facing downward - this can appear as an indication of
  2. Face traffic so you can see oncoming cars.
  3. Avoid dark, lonely areas (such as empty lots, alleys, or construction sites).
  4. Don't carry anything that keeps you from moving freely and quickly.
  5. If you need to ask directions, go into a store or public building.
  6. If someone looks suspicious, head in the opposite direction or cross the street and walk quickly away.
  7. Carry in your hand a loud whistle, shriek alarm, or pepper spray.  That way, you will have it ready in an emergency.  Keep in
    mind that pepper spray is not appropriate outside if there is a breeze -- it may be blown away from the intended target and
    could blow back into your own face or onto your skin.  See more information regarding pepper spray and personal attack
    alarms in the section about protection devices.


  1. Wait at busy, well-lit stops and/or by the ticket counter.
  2. Never enter an empty train car.  Go to one with people on it.
  3. Don't carry too many packages--always have a free hand.
  4. Sit in a seat as close to the driver as you can.
  5. If someone starts bothering you, scream.
  6. Watch who gets off with you at your stop.  If you feel uneasy, walk directly to a place where there are other people.  [You may
    consider getting back on the bus.]

  1. Be sure to take your car key out of the ignition and lock your door and windows.  (In 40% of car thefts, the keys were left in the
    car.  Even worse, 80% of stolen cars were left unlocked!).
  2. If you need to leave your car key--for example, for valet parking or car repair - hand over only your car key.  (Put your car key on a
    small key ring that can be separated from your other keys.)
  3. Do not hide spare keys in your car.
  4. Never leave your car running when you get out, not even for a moment.
  5. Consider buying anti-theft devices such as a steering column lock and alarm.
  6. Keep your car in good running order.  Always make sure it has plenty of gas.
  7. If you get lost, drive to the nearest public place to ask for directions.
  8. If someone suspicious approaches your car, honk your horn.  Drive away if you can.

  1. Do not open the door to a stranger.  If someone needs help, do not let them in.  Offer to place a call for them.
  2. If a delivery or repair person arrives without notice, ask for their name and the phone number of their company.  Then check
    with the company before unlocking the door.
  3. If you are listed in the phone book, use your initials instead of your first name.  Do not list your address.
  4. If you get prank phone calls, hang up at once.  Call your local phone company for advice.
  5. Never give information to wrong number callers.  Ask "What number are you calling?"
  6. [Install a storm/screen door with deadbolt locks.  Keep it locked when you are home to prevent strangers having immediate
    access to you when you open your door.]

  1. Remove or prune bushes that hide windows or doors.  Do not give someone trying to break into your home a hiding place.
  2. Light your outside entrances, garage doors, pathways, stairwells, and trash and parking areas.
  3. Put only your first initial and last name on mailboxes and building directories.  If you live alone, list a fictitious roommate.
  4. Report to your local utility company any street lamps that are not working.
  5. Do not leave ladders or tools outside.  A burglar could use them to break in.

  1. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail and newspapers daily.  Or contact the post office and newspaper to stop delivery while you
    are away
  2. If you will be gone for a long time, arrange for someone to mow the lawn, shovel snow, rake leaves, etc.
  3. Make sure a fmaily member, neighbor, or the police knows when you will be away.  Tell them how to reach you in an
  4. Use timers to turn some lights on and off at certain times.  Timers can also be used to turn a radio or TV on or off.
  5. Leave some window drape, blinds, or shades open so the house will not look closed up.  Do this on upstairs windows where
    no one can see in.
  6. Turn the ringer on your telephone to "low" or "off."  This way, a burglar will not hear the phone ringing and realize no one is

  1. If you have doubts about a business, phone the Better Business Bureau.
  2. Never pay for products or services ahead of time unless you are sure the company is reputable.
  3. Read everything in a contract before you sign it.  Do not sign anything you feel nervous about or do not understand.  See a
  4. Do not let anyone pressure you to sign anything or to give an answer right away.
  5. Beware of overly friendly strangers.  (Scam artists report that the key to selling a scam is to first become friendly with the victim.)
  6. If a sales person will not give you straight answers, stop the conversation.
  7. Never give out personal information such as your social security, bank account, or credit card numbers over the phone unless
    you initiated the call and know to whom you are talking.
  8. If someone tells you to place a 900 call to "win" something of value, think first.  You pay for 900 area code calls; the cost can be
    as high as $10 per minute.
  9. Be careful of contests, give-aways, sweepstakes, free vacation offers, investment offers, and cures for illness or aging.  Many
    are scams.
  10. Remember:  If it sounds "too good to be true," it probably is.

  1. Have social security checks and pension checks deposited directly into your bank account.
  2. Never send cash through the mail.  Send a personal check or money order.
  3. When you send out mail with a check in it, drop it in the mailbox.  If you must use your own mailbox, place the envelope in it
    shortly before your mail carrier is due to arrive.

  1. If your credit cards are stolen or lost, report the loss to the issuers right away.
  2. If you buy something by credit card, get the carbons (if there are any) and see that they are destroyed in front of you.
  3. Be careful about giving your credit card number over the phone.  Do so only when you have placed the phone call and you know
    the business.
  4. Make sure that no other customer in a store sees your name, credit card number, or security number--3 digits on signature
    side for VISA, MasterCard, Discover and 4 digits on front for American Express.  Someone who knows this information can
    make charges on your card by phone.
  5. Do not throw away credit card slips with your name and number on them without first tearing them up.
  6. Never carry your PIN (Personal Identification Number) with your credit cards or write them on your cards.  Memorize them

  1. Make sure that funds deposited your bank or credit union are federally insured and, if insured, what is the maximum amount  
    covered under that insurance.
  2. If you are going to the bank or credit union with valuables, ask a trusted relative or friend to come with you.  
  3. Keep a list at home of all the items in your bank or credit union safe-deposit box.  Make sure the list is in a safe place, such as
    a fire-proof storage box.
  4. If you must withdraw a large amount of money, get a cashier's check or use a wire transfer.
  5. If you think you are being followed, tell security or a teller at the bank or credit union.  Do not leave the building by yourself.
  6. Try to go into your bank or credit union to deposit or withdraw money rather than use the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

 You may consider putting some bills in a money clip or separate wallet, separate from other money and credit cards.  Only
take the credit card you may need.  Keep valuables and other money and credit cards on your person, in pockets or money belt, in
case your purse or wallet is stolen from you.  However, give up everything without hesitation  if you feel it best to do so.
Because of the continuously evolving nature of crime as well as new techniques or technology in
crime prevention, be sure to check this page periodically for new or updated tips.
Continue to Pg 2 of Safety for Seniors
Safety in Your Car for more tips.
(continued in Seniors II)
Safety for Seniors