Crime prevention

Women out walking

Many of us are anxious about crime. While it's important to be cautious, research shows the people over 60 are less likely to be attacked or robbed than any other age group.

Download our guide 'Staying safe' to discover how taking a few simple precautions can make you and your home more secure. Small changes can help you feel more secure, avoid being targeted and give you peace of mind.

Download the Staying safe guide:

Security in the home

Most burglars are opportunists and they will look for unlocked doors or opened windows to get in.

You can reduce the risk of burglary and make yourself feel safer by taking these steps:

  • Always lock outside doors and close the windows when you go out, even if only for a short time
  • Draw the curtains in the evening
  • Don’t give keys to people you do not know well, such as workmen
  • Change the locks if you think somebody else might have another copy of your keys
  • Do not leave keys in obvious places such as under a flower pot or doormat or hanging inside the letterbox
  • Look through the ‘spy hole’ and put the door chain on before you open the door
  • Only take the chain off and admit the caller if you are sure about their identity and purpose of their visit
  • Do not keep the chain on all the time; it will prevent someone with a door key entering - for example a home help or the emergency services
  • Keep your garden tools and ladders locked away
  • If you think you have been broken into, do not go inside as the burglar might still be inside - call the police.

For more advice on preventing burglaries, see our page of burglary prevention advice from the Metropolitan Police.

Keeping your doors and windows secure

It is best to get locks and bolts fitted by a qualified locksmith - check whether the locksmith is a member of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) by using the guide on their website.

Contact your local police station and ask to speak to a Crime Prevention Officer for advice on security.

Most of our local Age UKs run a handyperson scheme to provide and fit locks and spy holes.

Burglar alarms

Visible burglar alarms will deter opportunist burglars and increase the security of your home.

Safety outside the home

Out walking

Attacks on people by strangers in public places are rare and violent crime accounts for a small part of all recorded crime.

You can reduce the risk of attack further:

  • Stick to well-lit, busy roads, avoid underpasses; if you can, avoid walking alone, especially in an unfamiliar area
  • Walk facing oncoming traffic so a car cannot pull up behind you unnoticed
  • Buy a personal attack alarm and carry it in your hand while you are out walking at night
  • Carry a mobile telephone
  • Keep your bag close to you and don’t keep everything in it; for example put your keys in trousers/skirt pocket and mobile in your jacket pocket
  • Don’t carry large sums of money; cover up expensive looking jewellery
  • If someone tries to snatch your bag it might be best to let them have it instead of risking injuries
  • If you think someone is following you, check by crossing the street more than once to make sure if you are right; if you are still worried get to the nearest place where there are other people and call the police

Public transport

  • Wait in a busy and well-lit area
  • Sit near other people or close to the driver or conductor
  • If somebody makes you feel uncomfortable change places

Taxi

  • Check that the taxi that arrives is the one you ordered - if you gave your name to the company, check that the driver knows it before you get in
  • Sit behind the driver; if you feel uneasy ask the driver to stop in a busy place that you know of and get out

Driving

  • Make sure you have enough petrol
  • Plan your route in advance and tell somebody where you are going
  • Park in well lit busy areas
  • Don’t leave anything on display, lock any items in the boot
  • While driving keep valuables out of sight
  • Do not give lifts to or accept lifts from strangers
  • If you break down on a motorway, follow the arrows to the nearest phone and do not cross the carriageway. Don’t wait in the car - there is a high risk of accident.

Scams

Scams can take a variety of forms such as unsolicited prize draws, lotteries or windfalls, pyramid schemes, clairvoyant scams and emails and text messages linked to a premium rate telephone line.

To protect yourself from scams:

  • Read letters, brochures, emails and text messages carefully and seek professional help if it involves a lot of money or time
  • Make sure you know who you are dealing with, check independent sources to verify any claims made by a sales person, investments adviser or advertisement
  • Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of any offer made to you, ask for an explanation of anything you don’t understand
  • Don’t provide any financial or other personal details before you are sure that the company is legitimate
  • Deal with companies you know and trust
  • Don’t call premium rate telephone lines - they can cost £1.50 a minute or more and you may lose £15 for every call you make

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, or if you suspect a scam, call Consumer Direct for advice on 08454 04 05 06 (lo-call rate) or visit the Consumer Direct website.

Identity Theft

In identity theft criminals use your personal information to carry out fraud on your bank accounts or to use your name in another fraudulent way.

To keep your bank account safe:

  • Be cautious of anyone seeking too much personal information; ask why they need them
  • Never disclose your PIN to anyone - your bank would not contact you to ask for your PIN, password or other security information in full
  • Shred or cut to little pieces anything containing personal information such as documents, cards, receipts, unwanted applications for bank accounts, credit cards or loans etc before putting them in the bin
  • Check your statements regularly and contact your bank immediately if you do not recognize the transactions
  • If you are expecting a statement, new card or cheque book by post and it does not arrive, contact your bank immediately
  • Keep your passwords and PIN numbers safe, don’t write them down
  • Avoid using your mother’s maiden name as a security password - it can be easily discovered
  • Don’t use the same password for more than one account
  • Be careful when you use your cards and don’t let anyone see your PIN number
  • If you move house contact your bank and all other organisations to give them the new address (the Post Office can redirect post on request)
  • Use a computer that you know is secure - which means one with up to date antivirus software, and firewall installed; be wary of making a transaction using internet cafes or public computers

For more information see the Home Office's identity theft website.

What to do if you are a victim of a crime

  • Report the incident to the police
  • Try to recall as much as possible about the event and details of the people involved; take the name and address of any witnesses
  • If a car was involved, try to note its details such as colour, make, and registration number
  • List any missing items
  • Contact your insurance company
  • Change your locks if your keys have been taken; check if your insurance will cover this cost
  • If your cards have been stolen, call your bank or credit card company as soon as possible, the number will be on your statement

Victim Support

Victim Support is a national charity that provides free and confidential information and support to victims of crime, whether or not they report the crime to the police. It also runs a Witness Service, which helps people who are going to court, before, during and after the trial. Visit the Victim Support website.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) compensates victims of crime who have suffered a personal injury or trauma. This compensation is not available to replace stolen or damaged possessions that are not covered by insurance.

See the CICA website for claim details. Your local Victim Support scheme or Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help you with your application.

Your Age UK

Set your location to see what Age UK offers in your local area.

Age UK Advice:
0800 169 6565

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