Wayne Adult Community Center

Feature article from the June, 2003 Newsletter

How to Protect Yourself From Con Artists and Other Criminals


For the past few years, our national concern has focused on the potential for terrorist attack.  However, there are more likely and immediate dangers.  We can protect ourselves if we exercise some care and common sense.

The precautions outlined below are from a brochure issued by the Wayne Township Police Department*:

At home, your door should be equipped with a deadbolt or dropbolt lock, whose cylinder is highly pick-resistant and is protected by a guard plate.  The door should also have a peep hole with a wide-angle viewer.

Do not open your door until you’re sure of who is there.  Require a photo ID if applicable.

When leaving: Double-lock the door.  Do not leave a key under the mat or in any other hiding place.  Burglars know about them all.  If your keys are lost or stolen, change the locks promptly.

Upon returning:  If you see a door or window open or tampered with, do not enter.  Call the police.
When on the street, travel with companions whenever possible.  Avoid streets or parking lots that have few other people.  If you must carry a pocketbook, keep your hand on the clasp at all times.

Keep your keys and cash in garment pockets.  In stores, be particularly vigilant for pickpockets.

If your pocketbook is snatched, let it go!  Anything worth risking injury or death for, should not be there in the first place.

Senior citizens account for an excessive proportion of pedestrian fatalities:  Don’t cross against the light.  Watch for turning cars.  Never assume that a driver sees you, even if he or she is looking right at you.

When driving or riding in a car: Always wear the seat belt.

Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking. 

Find out whether any medication you take will affect your capabilities.  Remember also, that our reflexes and often our vision, decline with age.  Don’t drive the way you did thirty years ago.

Senior citizens also are victimized disproportionately by “con artists”, who win your confidence and then trick you out of money or worse.  They may phone you, or stop you on the street, or ring your doorbell.  They work both singly and with others.  They may pretend to be repairmen, building inspectors, bank officials or any one of many other things.

Be suspicious of strangers offering something for nothing or other wonderful deals, especially if they  require you to put up some “good faith” money.  Don’t take the word of a caller as to who or what they are.  Don’t give out sensitive information (credit card number, bank account number, Social Security Number, etc.) over the telephone unless you have placed the call to a known destination.

There is a lot more to say about the topics above, but our space here is limited.  Your own common sense should provide you with additional guidance.  Above all, remember what is said about something that seems too good to be true:  It almost undoubtedly is.

W. A. Shapiro

* “PD-Senior Safety”  -  1996