mid-day editorial: Senior citizens, it's time to toughen up

A series of crimes against senior citizens in the recent past are an indicator of how the silver-haired have become prime targets of criminals in the city.

Take the example of the 50-year-old conman recently arrested for cheating senior citizens in Mumbai’s central pockets like Matunga and Wadala. His modus operandi was to first befriend the watchmen at buildings so he could glean information about senior citizens residing there. He would reach out to those senior citizens whose kids stay in the USA, spinning a yarn about how he had arrived in the city and bought a property in the suburbs. He followed that up by persuading them to give him their precious gold and silver jewellery, saying he needed it for a puja. He would then make off with the jewellery, never to be seen again. Just a few days ago, another senior was robbed of her gold jewellery by a man who managed to enter her house by posing as a repairman from the cable company.

From fraud to murder, the elderly make for vulnerable targets and this needs to change. Seniors living alone must have helpline numbers accessible. While the police does have a helpline for senior citizens, it is up to them too to develop certain safety mechanisms. Often, the old are lonely, perhaps because their children have moved out or because their family simply does not have time for them. Conmen exploit these feelings, so it is imperative that the elderly stay wary of strangers. They must be extra cautious about locks on the door and, if possible, install double doors in their homes. They must have an idea about the nearest police station too. The police had told families to give a photograph and other details about their domestic servant to the nearest police station. Seniors must ensure this is done.

Most importantly, seniors must not look like they are soft targets. An agile mind can help foil nefarious designs. They need to look sharp, be wary of danger and be aware of any help avenues at hand. Seniors, harness the gentle wisdom you have accumulated over the years and use it for your safety and self-preservation.

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