Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Preying On Elderly People



I rang my mother yesterday to speak about Obama's inauguration, since I knew she would be watching it. Instead she told me what had happened on Sunday afternoon. When she got to the bit where she said "... and he had followed me into the bedroom and was standing behind me", that's when I stopped breathing and was sitting absolutely upright with my eyes in a fixed position on the wall in front of me.

She had fallen victim to one of the lowliest and most despicable of crimes. When the doorbell went she did not look through the "spy hole" or put the security chain on, she just opened the door. Outside stood a young man, whom she did not recognise, claiming to have locked himself out of his flat lower down in the building. Could he use her telephone to ring for an emergency locksmith? She let him in and sat down to read the newspaper while he seemingly made a phone call. The locksmith says he needs advance payment and I have no money on me, could you lend me some until Tuesday? I have very little money at home, but I'll check.

She walked slowly and unsteadily into her bedroom to get her purse, and he followed her in there! He even had the cool to ask her what she used to do for a living. Then he thanked her and added, as he left, that she would also get a cake on Tuesday. I work in a bakery.

He then proceeded to seek out new victims in the building. One lady, despite her husbands protests, handed over quite a large sum of money, but another one fended him off by saying she did not lend money to strangers.

How this fraudster / robber / thief / con man could pick out all the people between 75 and 93, I don't know, but the "rollator" (walking frame with wheels) inside the building entrance with my mother's name on it, might have been an obvious indicator.

My mother felt very embarrassed about the incident and made many excuses, some of them understandable. But it is a terrifying example of how vulnerable frail old people are. A brain that used to be quick and sharp is now slow and dull. We can only thank our lucky star that he was a cool and calm criminal and not a drugged up maniac. My mother is only a few bank notes and a couple of nights' sleep poorer, but a hard lesson richer.

Now it is up to the police to try and find this scumbag. My mother was in such a state that she could not give a description of him at all, only that he was young. Hopefully some of the other victims might. It all makes my blood boil!

22 comments:

Rositta said...

I can't even write what I would do to that scumbag but it wouldn't be pretty. Elderly people are such easy targets. Hopefully they will catch the guy soon and your Mom's okay...ciao

traveler one said...

My God! That's awful! And disgusting. Grrrrr. Give your mom big hugs, she must be frightened.

matthew_in_ham said...

My Dad has had a few "tradesmen" knock at his door saying that they can fix his roof/drive/fence (none of which are broken) for an immediate cash payment and it amazes me how close he has been to falling for this, to me, obvious scam. I guess some people prey on the elderly simply because they can be so easy to trick and often have cash around. Thinking about it now, it may be that the elderly should get special protection in law (i.e. much bigger penalties when caught) in much the same way that the young do. But it would be hard to draft such legislation without being ageist!

oreneta said...

How terrible. It is good the guy only wanted some money. Makes your breath catch in your throat to read it.

Horrid.

Hope they catch them, but what do they charge them with? Soliciting? It's obviously much worse than that. How terrible for your Mom.

christina said...

Oh my goodness! I read about this happening all the time in our area with senior citizens. Sometimes the con men ask for a glass of water or to use the phone, or they call an elderly person pretending to be a grandchild who needs a large sum of money that a "friend" will come by and pick up. Just last week some roofers (or so they said) cheated an old lady out of EUR 10.000 (!) which she gave them in cash. The did a bit of work and then took off. I couldn't believe it.

I'm SO glad your mother is OK!

GutsyWriter said...

That's so disgusting. I have to say that I was worried about him hurting her physically. Very sorry for your Mother and the other old people living in her building.

swenglishexpat said...

Rositta/T1/Matthew/Oreneta/Christina/GW - Thank you all for your caring comments. Living far away from her makes things harder, as I know most of you know from your own experience. This type of crime is far too common. How do people become such heartless beings? I will tell my mother you all have shown such concern when I speak to her next, and that will cheer her up! Thanks again.

GutsyWriter said...

Hi Swenglishexpat,

I sent you two awards in my posting today. If you have time to respond, great, if not, don't worry. I just thought you deserved them. Take Care,
Sonia aka GutsyWriter.

swenglishexpat said...

Sonia - I am flattered, two awards! I'll visit and see what they are. (Mange tack fra svengelsk.)

Eric Valentine said...

I was sorry to read your news Swen.

This thing seems to go on world wide, and only ocassinally do they seem to get caught.

I'm glad that your mom seems to have weathered the intrusion very well for somebody of age. She really must use the chainlock and peephole, I wish here well.

swenglishexpat said...

Eric - Thank you. Spoke to her y-day and she was slowly getting back into normal routines, but still thinking about it. She appreciated the sympathy I passed on from comments here. My brother has also removed her name label from her "rollator", which otherwise is like a signpost for crooks. Take care.

Diane said...

Oh, this is horrible! Something similar happened to a family friend in England... she was 85 at the time and the bastard knocked her down and kicked her before leaving. Thankfully nothing worse than that, but that was awful enough. I'm so glad your mother is OK, if shaken and embarrassed. And I hope they catch him soon!

swenglishexpat said...

Diane - Thank you. She is recovering, even made her laugh on the phone yesterday.

Veronica said...

it seems there are scums everywhere ... they must really feel big and tough to pick on an elderly lady ... hopefully they will get their reward
(my verification word is subless!)

swenglishexpat said...

Veronica - They bring out the worst revenge thoughts imaginable, don't they? And those verification words sometimes kill me with laughter! Once I got "plizer". Is that a do-gooder?

LadyFi said...

Oh - how terrible! Did this happen in Sweden?

swenglishexpat said...

LadyFi - Thanks for visiting and commenting. Yes, it happened in Malmö, but could have happened in any part of the world I suppose.

Diane Mandy said...

How scary! I'm so happy she is ok.

GutsyWriter said...

I'm waiting for an update on how your mother is doing. My aunt who lives outside Paris was mugged and the guy who stole her purse, outside church, managed to push her over and break her leg. It took her 2 years to walk normally again. Now she's scared to go out as much.

swenglishexpat said...

Diane - Thank you.
GW - My mother is mostly embarrassed about the whole incident, but my niece, who is a police officer, tells her how clever these people are at conning the elderly in particular. Your aunt's ordeal was awful! Worst of it is the lost confidence. Terrible!

CanadianSwiss said...

I'm just now catching up on posts ("thanks" to the flu). How horrible! I've been reading a lot about these kind of tricks towards the elderly lately, also here in Switzerland. Not that it didn't happen 100 years ago, but sadly, the frequency seems to be increasing.

I hope that she's ok again now and I'm glad that nothing "worse" happened.

swenglishexpat said...

CS - Thanks, it is really just the embarrassment left. I comforted her last week with how many bloggers and commentators had expressed concern and sympathy. She liked that! :-)