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How to protect an elderly person's home from crime

Making an elderly person's home secure

It is a sad fact of life that many criminals target elderly people in the very place they should feel  most safe - in their own homes. However, there are precautions that elderly people (or their relatives, friends or carers) can take to minimise the risk of crime in their homes. This article looks at some suggestions and ideas.

Locks and doors

It is a good idea to ensure that the elderly person has good quality locks on both the doors and windows (ideally to British Standard BS3621) of their home. However, many elderly people, even if they do have decent locks, sometimes forget to use them. On way to remember is to use sticky notes on the doors and windows with a reminder to make sure that they are locked before the elderly person leaves the house. Another idea is to have a check list of locks to check by the front door. Whenever the elderly person leaves the house, they can consult the check list to make sure that all the doors and windows have been closed and locked.

Spy holes and door chains

Another suggestion is to install spy holes and door chains on the front door. Spy holes are lenses that allow you to see who is at the front door before you open it. They are one way, so the person outside cannot look in. Door chains are chains that allow you to open the door, but only to a certain degree. They allow the elderly person to check the identity of the person at the door before opening it in full.

House alarms for the elderly

Another sensible precaution if you  can afford it is to install a house alarm (burglar alarm) which will go off in anyone tries to break into your house.  Some alarms can be linked to the local police station. Panic alarms are similar - they can be activated by an elderly person if they feel they are under threat in any way.   Panic alarms can also be linked to the local police station or a security firm who monitors the alarm systems day and night.

Movement  sensitive lighting

Elderly people can consider installing movement sensitive light on outside their home. The general idea is that a bright light is switched on by any movement  outside the house and this alone can be a deterrent for any burglar or trespasser. The disadvantage of this system is that it can be triggered by all sorts of movement including foxes and cats.

CCTC cameras

Some elderly people install CCTV cameras at their front door and at strategic points around their property. These cameras can be linked to a TV screen so that the elderly person can constantly monitor what is going on outside of their house. CCTV cameras and intercoms can mean that the elderly person does not need to open the front door unless they are certain of the identity of the person who is calling.

Other common sense advice to protect the elderly in their own homes

1) Do not leave keys under the mat, or under pot plants. These are the first places burglars will look. Instead, arrange to leave a set of keys with a trusted next door neighbour, relative or friend.

2) If someone calls who claims to be delivering something or from a utility company, always ask to see their photo ID. If they do not have photo ID, do not let them in your house. If you feel anything uncomfortable about them, ask them to wait outside can call their company to verify that they are who they say they are. However, never verify their identity by using a telephone number that they have given you.

3) Never keep large amounts of cash in your house. Make sure you pay in any cash or cheque income to a bank or building society account.

4) Mark all your valuables with your name and postcode. You can buy special 'invisible' security markers which will enable you to do this.

5) Never keep your cheque book and cheque card together.

6) Make sure you have a telephone extension by your bed so you can make calls easily at night if you suspect that anything is amiss in your home.

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