Feb 01, 2012
Elder Abuse is a crime that often goes unreported, but Halton Crime Stoppers is working to change that.
Last Friday, Halton Crime Stoppers kicked off Crime Stoppers month at the Halton Region Centre where they unveiled this year’s theme “Get informed, get involved and report crime against seniors.”
Police officials, media, residents and politicians were in attendance including Burlington MP Mike Wallace and Halton MP and Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. In the two previous years, Halton Crime Stoppers have held an anti-bullying campaign and an anti-guns and gangs campaign with much success.
“This year we’re focused on the important issue of elder abuse,” said Gary McLean, Chair of Halton Crime Stoppers. “Crime Stoppers only works because of a close and trusted relationships and partnership between the community, the media and the police service.”
According to Halton Regional Police Chief Gary Crowell, one in eight Halton residents is a senior and 23 per cent of Halton’s elderly live alone.
“It’s no surprise that when we were putting our plan together that the people of this community identified this vulnerable population as one of their top ten policing priorities,” said Crowell.
There are several forms of elder abuse that could affect seniors who live in Halton including physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse and neglect.
“Crime Stoppers is aware that senior victimization is a serious problem and recognizes the importance of early detection and early intervention,” said Sergeant Gary Gold.
“Unfortunately, in certain circumstances some people may be reluctant to come forward with information on elder abuse and report this to the police.”
Constable Wendy Moraghan, Halton Regional Police Elder Services Coordinator, said that elder abuse often goes unreported because of embarrassment on the part of the victim or fear of repercussions. It can also go unreported if the abuse comes at the hands of a trusted loved one or family member.
Elderly people can also be the target of various scams. One of the scams Moraghan identified is called the grandson scam. In this case, someone will call insisting they are the victim’s grandson and will say that they are in trouble and need money.
“It’s so very important that you confirm who you are talking to,” she said.
Moraghan also said that there is currently a couple going around to area grocery stores taking wallets from elderly lady’s purses using a distraction technique.
One perpetrator will bump into the lady’s grocery cart and, while the lady is distracted, the other will remove her wallet.
“I can do presentations everyday and people are still going to get scammed because they need to empower themselves,” she said, “and they need to make sure that they’re following the proper crime prevention procedures.”
Halton Crime Stoppers board member Cal Miller, who at 67 is a senior himself, said that initiatives like the Crime Stoppers’ anti-elder abuse campaign is important to make people aware of the criminal activity directed at seniors.
“We just want to let them know that there is a potential to be victimized,” he said. “Take precaution and if they are victimized let someone know.”
SOURCE: Inside Halton
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