News from 555 Gearhart Road: Advice for seniors to protect against crime

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart offers continued advice aimed at senior citizens to help protect themselves and their home against crime.

“Seniors continue to be the fastest growing segment of our population, and that makes them a prime target for con-artists and thieves,” Lenhart said during his weekly interview.

After reviewing crime statistics, Lenhart said basically the Sidney and Piqua areas are safe communities, but lie within in a “triangle area that is non-conducive to non-crime.” In Shelby County so far this year, he said there have been 20 burglaries and 133 thefts reported.

“This is my best guess, the majority of those thefts and burglaries, 80-plus percent, are from drugs,” Lenhart said.

He noted that Lima, located 50 miles to the north, is No. 5 in Ohio for crime, the Dayton area, 30 miles to the south, is No. 10 in the state, and Springfield, 35 miles to the southeast, is No. 2 for crime in the state.

“When you look at the triangle that we are in, it’s no wonder the thefts and so forth are higher than normal. But on a bright note, Wapak is one of the least,” he said.

The sheriff encourages seniors to install easy to use locks, dead bolt locks, on all doors and windows, including sliding patio doors.

“Don’t hide the keys under the doormat and the planters. Leave an extra set with a neighbor or a friend, if there is a need to get in,” Lenhart suggested. “Install a peep hole and be sure to use it. They are really unique because then you never have to open the door to a stranger.”

If a stranger is at the door asking to use the phone or it’s a service technician wanting to speak to you, know who they are and ask for identification before considering opening the door, he recommends.

Lenhart suggests keeping your trees and shrubs trimmed to eliminate hiding spaces around your home. He said to keep your house, inside and out, well lit at night and to keep the blinds and curtains drawn closed. He also suggested to mark your name or initials on your possessions, such as a cellphone, to be easily identified if lost or stolen.

“If you are out and about as a senior, we recommend that you travel in pairs, whether it’s shopping or walking, exercising. Contact your bank and make sure you have free direct deposit, rather than having a government check, or any kind of a check, mailed to you at the first of the month,” Lenhart said. “And if you are taking public transportation, sit close to the driver or the exit, and if it’s possible, ask the driver to wait until you are safely in your home. And if you are traveling, travel on well-lit streets, plan your route before, and be aware of your surroundings.”

In terms of home repairs, be sure to use established, known businesses, that are bonded, licensed and insured.

Lenhart spoke of a recent complaint the Sheriff’s Office received from a victim who did everything right when seeking work to be done. The individual went to a reliable business in town, who used a list of approved contractors, but it didn’t work out he said.

“The contractors allegedly took their money and didn’t provide (the service). The contractor’s name is Jim Borger Painting. And I would be interested for anybody who have any complaints (about the contractor), or any other persons that have gotten ripped off like that,” Lenhart said.

Allegedly, the Wapak contractor was given half of the money to do the work, then was supposed to return the money but then communication ended and he did not show up again, Lenhart was told.

If anyone has had similar complaints, Lenhart asks for people to report it to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office at 937-498-1111.

By Sheryl Roadcap

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.