November 15, 2019 by Ottawa Police Service Service
Seniors are at greater risk of crime – learn about four things you can do to prevent it
The Ottawa Police Service is encouraging families and care takers to reach out to their elderly loved ones and help them adopt safety measures to reduce the chance of becoming a victim of crime.
“Our senior population is more vulnerable to certain types of crime, like fraud and abuse,” says Sergeant Linda Leung, head of the Ottawa Police Elder Abuse Section. “They may not be online and therefore are not necessarily accessing the majority of information available to them about their safety and wellbeing.”
There are a lot of crime prevention programs we offer to keep seniors safe, so Ottawa residents can take advantage of them and help get the message to those who may not be aware of the resources.
“At some point in time, everyone will be involved with a senior person in one way or another. Sharing knowledge is empowering.”
Sgt. Leung offers this advice not only to families and caregivers of seniors, but to the general public.
“Fraud scams are lucrative and they often target seniors. They make up a big percentage of our victims,” says Sgt. Leung. “The fraudsters are clever and play on the elderly’s emotions, making it easier for them to fall for such a scam.”
For example, in the “Grandparent Scam”, the caller refers to the senior as grandma or grandpa and merely identifies themselves as, ‘it’s me’. Then when the grandparent provides a name of a family member who would make such a call, the scammer uses that identity to request money. It’s usually followed with, ‘don’t tell mom or dad, I don’t want them to know I’m in trouble’.
Sgt. Leung recommends familiarizing yourself and advising seniors of common telephone and door to door scams so they’ll be less likely to be victimized by them.
Another issue police frequently see is a delay in reporting incidents.
“Many situations require an immediate police response. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been a victim, even if you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and call us,” says Sgt. Leung. “For instance, if someone comes to your door to get inside to look at your furnace or your water meter and you haven’t made a request for someone to be at your home, that’s suspicious.”
Call 613-236-1222 and choose the option ‘for immediate police assistance’ so we can assess the situation.
“They could be looking for entry points, valuables or ascertaining if you live alone,” says Sgt. Leung. “Or they could try to sell you something you don’t really need.”
If you call police and you are referred to online reporting or the Police Reporting Unit, you know the incident is being handled appropriately.
“Even if you don’t let them in, call police, because chances are, they’re doing it to other people too,” says Sgt. Leung. “By calling us, you can prevent others from becoming victims of theft or fraud.”
Sgt. Leung also encourages family members and caretakers to watch for signs of abuse as well.
For more safety tips for seniors, go to the OPS website.