TheFrailAreOftenTargeted

On January 2 an 86-year-oId woman walking near her home on Jackson and 11th streets was slashed in the face with a beer bottle after an unsuccessful attempt to snatch her purse.

Close to two years ago another woman, also in her 80s was robbed and raped by an intruder after she returned to her McKinney home at 2:30 in the afternoon. She has since sold her home and moved out of the state.

“It certainly seems like seniors are targets for crime,” says Sophie Bell, a social services coordinator at the 10th Street Social Center. “We heard a lot of stories from seniors. I walk the same streets and take the same buses many of them do, but nothing has ever happened to me. People are often picked as targets for crime because they look frail, are elderly, or don’t speak English.”

And as the AARP points out, the consequences can be far more serious for the elderly than for younger adults. For seniors who are suffering from medical ailments, a purse-snatching, for example, can easily cause permanent disability.

“When seniors are attacked,” says Patience Washington, director of the Senior Center, “it’s not just their purse or wallet and valuables they lose. Someone who is 60 or 90 years old can have osteoporosis, fall down during a purse-snatching, break a hip, be hospitalized, and never recover.”

Because many seniors live on fixed incomes, they are also less resilient to financial loss than their younger counterparts who work. When Grace Newton, 57 was robbed last year, the culprit took $400, leaving Newton without grocery money for an entire month.

“Now I don’t leave any cash at home”, she says. “I used to go to the bank once a month, deposit a portion, check, and keep $400 for groceries and other essentials. Now I go to the bank three times a month to withdraw money as I need it. It’s more difficult for me this way, but I can’t afford to have someone steal my money again. I need every penny to get by.”