Senior citizens are often targeted by criminals. Though many criminals target seniors from a distance, via telephone or internet scams, criminals also seek to enter seniors’ homes. According to the Department of Justice, while Canadian research on crimes against the elderly is sparse, findings drawn from research literature indicate that each year, about 10 percent of Canadian seniors are victims of crime. The vast majority of these are property crimes.

Home security is important for people of all ages, but especially so for seniors and elderly individuals living alone. By following certain safety tips and developing a home security plan, seniors can feel safer at home.

1. Lock your windows and doors. It may seem like common sense, but failure to repeatedly lock windows and doors can, and often does, give burglars easy entry into the home. It’s important to review your home security frequently to ensure your property is a less appealing target for thieves. According to the RCMP, a large percentage of property crime is opportunistic in nature. Thieves seek out the easiest target for break-ins such as open doors and windows, garage door openers, and unoccupied residences.

2. Think about a smart doorbell. Technology now enables doorbells to provide a video feed to a person’s smartphone or tablet over WiFi. This allows residents to see who is at the door and to speak to the person without having to open the door. Some products will even register motion activity and record short videos from outside of the house.

3. Do not share your keys or leave keys to the home outside where they may be accessible to anyone. Avoid leaving keys under a mat or in a flower pot. Individuals may be watching your actions and gain access to your home while you are away.

4. Ask for ID. When service people or other individuals come to the door, make sure that you verify their credentials by asking to see some identification.

5. Install outdoor lighting and a home alarm system. Well-placed motion detector lighting around your property as well as a home alarm system can be an effective way to deter thieves. If you have an alarm system, be sure to activate it before you leave home. Also ensure that your street address is well lit and visible from the road to allow emergency responders to find your property quickly in an emergency.

6. Install a lockable mailbox. Locked mailboxes restrict access to sensitive information, such as bank account numbers, sent in the mail. Make sure retirement cheques or other payments are deposited directly into bank accounts instead of having them sent by mail.

7. Use home automation. Home automation, or a “smart home,” can be utilized to turn on lights, set the thermostat, lock doors and much more.

8. Adopt a dog. Dogs can be a great asset to seniors. Dogs provide companionship and can bark or alert you if someone is around or inside of the home.