Police urge caution as senior assaults on the rise

Captain Keith Walton, 49th Precinct commanding officer, is urging senior citizens to use caution while in public following a string of assaults on the elderly across the borough.
File Photo

A series of crimes against senior citizens, including an NYPD employee, across the Bronx has elderly residents on edge and law enforcement advising caution.

On Friday, September 9 a 72-year-old man was assaulted on Allerton Avenue near Barker Avenue at around 3 a.m. by a man demanding money.

Captain Keith Walton of the 49th Precinct said the elderly victim was in fact a civilian employee of the NYPD who was on his way to lower Manhattan where he worked at the main NYPD headquarters.

“He’s a janitor and he works at 1 Police Plaza on his way to work when he was sucker punched in the side of the face and sustained a fractured eye socket,” Walton said.

One of the people responsible for the attack turned himself in Tuesday afternoon accompanied by a lawyer, he added.

Less than a week earlier, on Saturday, September 3 in the Melrose area at Courtlandt Avenue and 154th Street, a 72-year-old woman was struck from behind and her bag stolen at around 10:30 a.m.

Another attack occurred Thursday, September 15 in the Soundview section at 5:45 a.m. at 1635 E. 174th Street when a woman had her purse stolen while waiting for a bus at a bus stop, according to police.

The suspect was seen running into a nearby building with another suspect.

On Sunday, September 11 an 86-year-old woman in a wheelchair had her purse stolen while sitting outside of her West Farms apartment building at around 9 a.m.

Police arrested a 37-year old woman in connection with that attack a day later.

On Monday, September 12 a 70-year-old Mt. Hope man was robbed when two men armed with a gun and a Tazer-style stun gun forced their way into his Topping Avenue apartment.

The man was robbed of $21,000 he kept in a safe under his bed, according to police.

Last month, two elderly women in the Belmont neighborhood were robbed in their homes.

Those attacks were followed by a press conference by Councilman Ritchie Torres, who cautioned seniors and asked for help from the community in identifying the suspect. However, as of Tuesday, September 20, the suspect was still at large.

Walton cautioned senior citizens to take precautions by traveling in groups and practice caution in dealing with people they don’t know.

“We advise them to take care of their routine business between 9 a.m. and noon when the streets are more populated,” Walton said. “And don’t utilize their cell phones and be oblivious to their surroundings.”

He also advised seniors to separate their money from the wallet to avoid taking out their entire wallet, which allows others to see the entire contents of their wallet or purse.

Seniors are also common targets for credit card scams.

Walton said officers in the 49th Precinct will come to an elderly person’s home and deliver their mail to the post office to help them avoid scammers.

Walton also cautioned seniors to keep information about where their money is stored to themselves, or better yet keep money in secure financial institutions whenever possible.

Councilwoman Annabel Palma, who represents Soundview, said in a statement she was advising seniors to reach out to their designated Neighborhood Coordination Officers, a two-person team stationed in each neighborhood tasked with identifying safety issues through community involvement.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano

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