Secure house, secure mind

Many seniors have worked most of their adult lives to accrue various valuables, trinkets and memorabilia in their homes. From the smallest knickknack to the most expensive bauble, many items carry great sentimental value.

And that’s what makes it even more devastating when those items are stolen during a burglary. Being victimized during a home robbery is one of the most personal crimes someone can experience.

But the elderly need not become victims. There are many ways older people can keep their homes secure, thereby protecting their cherished belongings — and themselves — from harm.

There are several things that are important when it comes to protecting the home from being burglarized, according to Jean O’Neil, director of research and evaluation for the National Crime Prevention Council, a nonprofit educational organization.

“One of the odd things that you wouldn’t think of is you need to be very careful about things like home repairs,” O’Neil said. “You need to hire people you know are bonded and licensed.”

The risk in not hiring licensed and bonded repairmen is that those same repair people could actually be burglars in disguise, casing your house and perhaps weakening your home’s defense systems by unlocking doors and windows in order to gain entry at a later time.

O’Neil also recommends being wary of repair or home-improvement people who seem glib or are really good talkers. They could be trying to gain your confidence to put you at ease so that you won’t suspect that they’re up to no good.

Also, if you’re a senior who uses a wheelchair, has lost height or stoops, you may need to have lower peepholes installed in your doors so you can clearly see who’s outside.

And speaking of doors, the security of every door in the house should be examined, O’Neil said.

According to the NCPC, 60 percent of all burglaries are without force — meaning that someone gained entry into the home through an unlocked door or window. The simple act of locking doors and windows can make a big difference, since criminals usually aren’t interested in putting in a lot of effort into the act of stealing your things.

“Most burglars are not interested in confrontation. If they wanted hard work, they’d have a job,” O’Neil said.