A Safer Naper

August - Senior Safety

This month, the Naperville Police Department is encouraging residents to make Naperville “A Safer Naper” by protecting our elderly neighbors, friends and family members from criminals who may defraud them of their hard-earned assets. Here are two specific crimes senior citizens may fall victim to:

Financial Exploitation

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to crime because they may be dependent on other people for their care or because a weakened mental state leaves them not capable of fully understanding their financial situation.

Financial exploitation (abuse) of seniors occurs when someone steals, withholds or otherwise misuses an elderly person's money, property or valuables for personal advantage or profit. Financial abuse is an extremely under-reported crime that is, sadly, most often committed by people the senior loves and trusts such as children, grandchildren or caregivers.

It is important for family and friends to look for patterns that might signal a problem. Be suspicious if the elderly person has a new "best friend," becomes socially isolated or is hesitant to have contact with others unless his/ her caregiver is present. Also, be alert for:

  • Unpaid bills, past due notices or utility shut offs.
  • Missing property, large or unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, or transfers between accounts.
  • Changes in banks or attorneys.
  • Checks being written out to “cash;” often in large amounts or high volume.
  • Bank statements and canceled checks no longer coming to the elder's home.
  • Unfamiliar signatures on checks and other documents.
  • Gifting money or personal property.
  • Changes in spending habits, such as buying items the senior doesn't need.
  • Lack of personal amenities, such as clean clothes and grooming items.

One of the few ways to stop financial abuse is to REPORT IT. If you suspect that this is happening to someone you know, you should contact the police or the Illinois Department of Aging-Adult Protective Services.

Ruse Burglaries

Seniors are often the target of ruse burglaries, which are when a criminal gains entry into someone’s house through deception, usually with the intent to steal valuables or cash kept inside.

Offenders will often target senior citizens during daylight hours by posing as outside workers, such as surveyors, utility company workers, tree trimmers, etc., to get the homeowners outside. Once the homeowner is distracted and lured away from the front door, another offender will sneak inside the home to snatch small items like jewelry, electronics or cash.

We encourage the public to be proactive and ask neighbors to watch out for elderly residents who live nearby. We would also like to remind residents that all City of Naperville employees can be identified by their City of Naperville ID, uniform and City vehicle.

The Naperville Police Department also recommends the following measures:

  • Be alert for any activity that doesn’t appear typical for your neighborhood; call the police immediately if you notice any suspicious subjects, vehicles or activity.
  • Keep your home locked (even when you’re in the yard).
  • Do not allow anyone access to your home without a proper appointment and verification (i.e., pictured ID’s and/or written correspondence); when in doubt, call the police.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who knocks on your door with an offer that sounds “too good to be true.”
  • Finally, never pay for work in advance; always pay at the conclusion of the job.