DO not open the door to anyone before you’ve checked who he or she is, and what they want. Make sure the back door is always locked.
That was the stark advice from local crime prevention officer Sgt Ian O’Callaghan, who spoke to a gathering of senior citizens at the Skibbereen Luncheon Club.
While the number of burglaries and serious crime in West Cork remains low, in 2017 there were 111 homes broken into, he said.
Communities and individuals across the region are being urged to be aware at all times and to enhance their personal security where necessary.
But ‘personal safety’ and security for older people, especially those living alone, was not a matter of barricading the doors and never leaving the house, he said.
‘The main thing you can do is to be aware of any situation you might find yourself in and prepare,’ Sgt O’Callaghan said. ‘Most burglaries happen during the daytime, when the home is unoccupied, so begin with making sure all windows and doors are locked and secure.’
However, Sgt O’Callaghan said that with the change of season, more unwanted callers may approach the house offering services, requesting help or pretending to be from a government or local authority department, in order to gain access to the home.
‘Do not open the door to anyone before you’ve checked who he or she is and what they want and make sure the back door is locked,’ Sgt O’Callaghan said.
‘Ask for identification and make sure you have a door chain fitted. If they are who they say they are, they will have no problem showing you identification.’
He also advised to never keep cash in the house and to keep a list of emergency numbers such as family members, neighbours and the gardaí close at hand. ‘If someone calls to your home uninvited offering a service or a product, then do not engage with them – just tell them no and ask them to leave. If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, call the gardaí at Skibbereen or Clonakilty.’
Sgt O’Callaghan said that friends and neighbours are vital when preventing crimes against the elderly in the community.
‘A good neighbour will keep an eye on the elderly,’ Sgt O’Callaghan said. ‘Just calling to see that everything is okay can make a world of difference for those living alone. The Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch schemes can help with getting funding various alarms and security systems for elderly people in the community and the local garda station and crime prevention officer can also help with this.’
For more information, contact the gardaí at Skibbereen on 028 23088 or at the Clonakilty garda station where the telephone is monitored 24 hours a day, on 023 8821570.