Sergeant Nick Nicholas of the City of Seal Beach Police Department is offering must-know advice to seniors and their families. Make sure you listen to his tips for senior protection with our newest podcast, highlighting everything from fraud prevention to understanding issues such as domestic violence.
Click here to listen to the podcast.
Pre-Cautions to Not Be A Victim of Crime
Paying attention and being aware of your surroundings are the most important parts to assist with prevention. Sergeant Nicholas noted that one of the most frequent calls is a scam to distract senior citizens.
For instance, someone is shopping at a grocery store and leaves their bag or purse. Someone will approach them and engage them in a conversation while another individual will take the purse or bag from the victim.
Protection is based on awareness of surroundings. This doesn’t mean you need to be paranoid, but be aware of who is around you and what is going on.
Senior Protection and Their Homes
The City of Seal Beach is known for its safety and community orientation. However, the safety and protection should also be followed with common sense protection.
The tips for senior protection are based on the understanding that there are some individuals that do commit crimes.
Simple protection approaches such as locking your car or door are important. Sergeant Nicholas notes that most crimes are one of opportunity.
Stolen property, for instance, is usually from issues with someone leaving something in an easy site to be stolen without having the items locked properly.
Sergeant Nicholas also states that security cameras are a defense item that can assist you with crime prevention while capturing someone who comes to your door.
The cameras deter crime if someone sees there is protection and it also provides more information to the police so help is received.
Watching Out For Fraud and Con Artists
Sergeant Nicholas states that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Super luck, incredible circumstances, and other issues means you should walk away.
For instance, emails that you won the lottery, you had an error from your bank, or your account was compromised are all red flags.
The scams will highlight the money first, then will ask for information, deposits, and bank data to think they will get the amount in return. After the initial amount of money is gone, they never receive money. These are difficult to follow up on because they are often overseas.
Sergeant Nicholas also noted the “grandma I’m in jail scheme.” The con artist will look up your information online to start. They will then call and tell you that they are your grandson and they have been arrested for a DUI or while on vacation.
They will then ask for money for bail from the other individual, stating they have a cold or are yelling to have a difference in voice. Often, this is from gift cards to checks or wire of money.
Other issues may be a virus in your computer or seeing that something is wrong with your computer. You may also fall into email frauds that focus on the bank account or other institutions.
Checking the email to verify who it is from will tell you it is a scam. If you are not sure, call your institution, relatives, or loved ones so you don’t give out your information.
Verifying sources, checking the information, and looking at red flags about “claims” is essential before responding. You can talk to your family or contact the police department to identify what you need.
Remember, those who follow these scams are playing a “numbers game” and follow a sense of urgency. There is no urgency and those who are pulling the cons are interested in closing one person out of several individuals who are being contacted.
Domestic Violence Prevention for Seniors
Domestic violence is never okay. It is never okay with someone you live with, are dating, are married to, or cohabitating with. It’s not okay once or twice by anyone.
Victims often form a circle where they move into a state of violence and the perpetrator will apologize and introduce a “honeymoon” phase where things are loving.
After a week or a month, another incident of violence takes place. This circle continues over and over again. It’s important to stop the circle as soon as something happens.
Even if you have been with someone for a long time or are dependent on someone financially, realize that there is a way to get help. There are also safeguards in place where you are protected if you report it.
This is because violence always ramps up and gets higher. It’s better to get assistance right away with the support that is available for you to get out of the situation.
Sergeant Nicholas noted that there are mandated laws in California for an arrest if violence is reported. Unlike other types of crimes, an arrest is always issued for domestic violence because of the escalation that occurs.
After the arrest, there is an emergency protective order to keep the aggressor away from the victim for a specific amount of time and re-locate the victim. It then goes to court to determine the outcome.
Making sure domestic violence, even after the first time, is reported to the police will protect you from further escalation while allowing the police department to be aware of the issues that are taking place and to diffuse the issues.
Getting Help From Outside Sources
The tips for senior protection are important to note because it can take different forms than other types of domestic violence.
For instance, caregivers may become abusive either physically or fiduciary abuse by taking personal information from seniors to take money from them or leave them in a helpless situation.
It’s important to speak with your loved ones and to get help with someone. Loved ones should look at their financials, check for bruising, and check on those who are receiving care.
Hiring an agency, such as BlueSea Care, can reduce issues. It’s important to know who someone is, make sure they have a background check, and understand that it’s important to trust those who are in your home.
Don’t Fall for Con Stories
Sergeant Nicholas highlighted that seniors will often fall into cons or issues because of the vulnerability of the population.
A common story that was noted was that seniors will often be told by someone that they have had hard times and need assistance. Seniors will then be tricked because they want to help.
The police department’s perspective is to be aware and not give money or extra support to someone that you don’t know enough.
These issues are harder to track and respond to, specifically because the victim is willingly giving someone money and the identity of the other individual is often difficult to trace.
Family members should continue to check on seniors, specifically to make sure that the individuals you are working with are legitimate and genuine.
Neighborhood Activities for Senior Protection
Police Departments are focused on connecting to the community and making sure they can assist with more conversations.
Social media pages are important, specifically with extra information that is taking place with activities, events, and important updates.
This is speeding up the information that is available while allowing you to connect closer to the community.
Check the Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to find the Seal Beach Police Department to stay updated with their latest news.
The Department will highlight everything from traffic accidents, thefts in certain areas, reminders for safety, and incidents that allow the community to receive assistance.
Neighbors is another application that can be looked into. These are in conjunction with ring cameras and also assists with capturing crimes in progress or suspicious subjects. Those videos are then sent to the police department to see if there is a potential crime.
Nixel is another app to look into, providing alerts based on your zip code. Press releases, critical information, or even storm warnings will be alerted through your SMS and phone. You can text 888-777 with your zip code and it will sign you up for the alerts.
Sergeant Nicholas noted that senior citizens, especially during this time, need to be cared for and looked after. Help with mental health, social connectivity, and basic needs are all associated with the needs seniors have.
Meals on Wheels, programs to reduce social isolation, hotlines to chat, and other activities are available.
Seniors can help each other by being good neighbors. He noted that Seal Beach is a closer community where each individual helps each other and watches for unusual activities.
Looking out for one another is important to make sure everyone receives care.
The three-legged stool was used as a metaphor to show how there are three things that need to happen for a crime to occur.
The first leg requires a likely offender.
The second leg is the absence of a capable guardian. This is someone who isn’t protecting you, your property, or your home.
The third leg, and the most important, is a suitable target.
If any of these are missing, there is no crime. If all occur at the same place and time, then there will be a target.
To change this, harden the target first. Remove valuables, install security, lock your doors. This makes the property less attractive to likely offenders.
Being a capable guardian to neighbors and making sure each individual is assisting each other can also help. Volunteer services in Seal Beach, known as VIPs, for instance, are very robust in assisting the police department. Taking care of the fleet, manning sub-stations, and acting as help to officers is one way to connect and help the community.
Click here to learn more about the volunteer programs.