Crime Specialists Say Keeping an Eye on the Elderly Can Save Lives

Lynchburg, VA - A double homicide in Campbell County is just one of the violent crimes committed on the elderly lately.

Crime prevention experts say criminals often see the elderly as easy targets. Many live alone, and unfortunately, they have a false sense of security.

But the importance of neighbors, they say, cannot be underestimated.

"Her favorite thing to do was to leave you a loaf of sourdough bread hanging on your door knob," said one neighbor of Lynda Slocum. It was neighbors of the 86-year-old murder victim, Slocum, who noticed she'd been missing.

In Campbell County, "He would frequently walk in the evenings, or even after dark, up the street with his dogs to give them a little walk. And I saw him outside doing a little bit of yard work. He seemed like a nice guy," said a neighbor of the Philbrooks.

Neighbors knew something was wrong when the Philbrooks, an elderly couple, hadn't been seen, in days.

"As with any good neighbor, it's looking out for each other. It's being observant" said Lynchburg Police Crime Prevention Specialist Cindy Kozerow.

She says being watchful, keeping tabs, and knowing the neighborhood routine can literally save lives.

"Do they usually come out with a dog every morning? Do they go off to work at a certain time of the day? And if you see something that's out of the ordinary for your neighbors or for that neighborhood, take time to pick up the phone to call them and check on them" she said.

Kozerow says with recent events especially, the elderly need to do all they can to protect themselves.

"Realize now we weren't living in the same era we were 20 years ago, and realize they do need to actually start locking their doors and leaving lights on at night" she said.

And organizing a neighborhood watch group, specialists say, can be really beneficial. Bottom line, with elderly neighbors especially, it can't hurt to always be on the lookout.