Avoiding the mark  

Marianne Delorey, Ph.D.

By Marianne Delorey, Ph.D.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”  — J. K. Rowling

Bad things happen to good people.  If we let the fear of bad things rule our lives we will never leave the house.  So we live our lives, and when bad things do happen, we teach other people the lessons we learned so that they can avoid the school of hard knocks.

Consider Judy, who was a recent victim of crime at a local mall.  When she realized her wallet, including several hundred dollars in cash was stolen, she moped and cried and cursed for an entire weekend.  The next Monday, however, she got busy.  She called me and asked me to write a column about her story so that others would not have to live through the same experience.  And here is what she told me:

“I was at the mall, just walking into one of the stores when a woman caught my eye.  She approached me, looked me in the eye, paused, and then complimented me.  I thought the interaction odd, but did not think about it again until I was done shopping and I realized my wallet was not in my bag.

“When I thought back, I remembered that the woman who approached me was near a man who must have come up behind me and taken my wallet while she had eye contact with me.

“Of course, I approached the police, but they don’t have much to go on.  It occurred to me that if I shared my story, however, it might bring me closure.”

And so, here are Judy’s quick tips for crime prevention for the elderly:

  1. Don’t carry cash. As a generation, we prefer cash, but only carry that which you expect to need that day.  Use credit or debit cards when possible.
  2. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t make it easy for them to approach you in the first place.
  3. Keep your eyes on your surroundings. Be aware of people all around you, where they are, and where the exits are.
  4. Carry only what you need. If you are fumbling for your wallet, you make a good target. Keep your purse closed and close to you until you get to the register.
  5. Make a list of what is in your wallet and keep it at home. If someone steals your wallet, you will have to quickly cancel many cards.  Make sure you know what they are.
  6. Make yourself invisible – don’t wear jewelry or other carry fancy bags. If nothing about you seems worth stealing, they will look for a better target.
  7. Involve the police. They may not crack your case, but with your information they might find a pattern and be able to prevent more crimes down the road.
  8. Don’t let yourself be victimized after the fact. The police and your family will ask you a lot of questions, some of which may sound like they are blaming you.  “Why were you out after dark?”  “Why did you talk to that person?”  Don’t let them make you think this is your fault.  You did not invite this in.

Luckily, Judy is an optimist.  She realized Nietzsche was right, “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”   Judy decided that turning the theft into a lesson for others meant she was no longer the victim, she is now the hero of her own story.

Marianne Delorey, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Colony Retirement Homes. She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or mdelorey@colonyretirement.com and www.colonyretirementhomes.com .

Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.