Hudson -- The Summit County Prosecutor's Office is warning senior citizens in Summit County to use caution as reports about crimes against the elderly are on the rise.
"My office has seen an increase in cases involving burglaries and break-ins within the senior community," Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh said in a Sept. 13 statement. "Criminals target the elderly, because they believe seniors are more vulnerable and weaker than other targets."
So far Hudson has not seen the same rise in burglaries against the elderly as other portions of Summit County, according to Hudson Communications Manager Jody Roberts.
However there are some scams that elderly residents should watch out for, according to Hudson Police Det. Kaija Jeantet.
One scam involves a person posing as a worker who needs to see either a gas meter or a property marker. The person will ask the homeowner to walk to the side of the home or backyard. As they do, a second accomplice will enter the home and search for valuables, Jeantet said.
A variation of the scam is a person posing as a worker asks the homeowner to take him or her to the basement to look at the water meter. As the two are in the basement, a second scammer will then enter the unlocked door and search for valuables.
The elderly are targeted because they "are sweet and trusting," Jeantet said.
"Be cautious about who you let in your home," Welsh added. "If you are not expecting anyone, don't open the door until you have verified that they are genuine."
Walsh also shared tips to help keep seniors and all residents safe.
"Tell friends and neighbors you trust if you plan to go out of town or are expecting deliveries. If they know, they will be more likely to notice if something is amiss and will spot unexpected visitors at your home."
Walsh suggests if a homeowner will be away, set timers to switch lights on and off at random.
"Also, put a hold on your mail or have a trusted neighbor collect your mail until you return," Walsh said.
"And do not hide spare keys in a planter, underneath a doormat, in the mailbox or above the door," she said. Criminals know these common hiding spots and can gain easy access to the home, Walsh said.
"Instead, be sure to give a spare key to a trusted neighbor or friend," she said.
A home alarm system should also be a consideration.
"Alarm system signs can deter criminals from breaking and entering into your home," Walsh said. "If the criminal does get into your house, your alarm system will sound an immediate alert of a home burglary."
Alarm systems that are monitored 24/7 by a security company is another option.
"The security company will notify law enforcement of any incident," she said.
Self-defense classes might be another way some people can protect themselves and home.
Walsh's office will hsponsor a free self-defense class for women of all ages Sept. 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Gus Johnson Community Center, 1015 S. Ave., in Akron. Registration is not required.