Dear seniors, beware of the affable good Samaritans

  • Shamim Jones, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Apr 20, 2016 23:13 IST
Thieves are lurking in the garb of good Samaritans, offering lifts to people wearing precious jewellery. (iStock)

It happened to my parents, it could happen to yours too. Parents often impart the wisdom of how to be cautious amid strangers. But they should not forget the same mantra for themselves.

Yes, it’s not only the children and the young who could be in peril, but the adults, especially senior citizens, are vulnerable too.

The fact was laid bare two days ago when my parents trusted a nice family offering them a lift in their car.

The lift did not last more than 200 metres when my parents were suddenly deserted.

It only seemed like a strange sequence of events until my mother noticed her gold chain and bangle were missing. It then hit home that the decent looking family was in fact a gang of car-borne thieves who stole her jewellery worth Rs 1.10 lakh in a matter of minutes.

This wasn’t a one off incident. A number of senior citizens, some as old as 80, have been duped using the same modus operandi across the tricity over the past year.

All the thieves, who mostly comprise women, need is an elderly person moving on foot, wearing some precious jewellery — a perfect prey.

Why trust strangers?

The reasons are many. First, the gang comprises two women — one in her thirties, another in her sixties — and a young man.

The “affable” miscreants, who speak Punjabi, do not comprise two women, one elderly, by chance. It is their obvious attempt to seem more trustworthy by portraying a familial image. They speak your language, they look like you, and they seem like a family, so they don’t immediately strike as dangerous.

This gang of thieves is also quite well versed in striking a conversation. From being acquaintances of the family, friends of the children and neighbours to even a possible matrimonial alliance, they have all tricks up their sleeves to seem friendly.

Therefore, it won’t be long before they have gained your trust and trick you into accepting a “simple” ride home.

Courtesy, a forgotten virture

How often does one encounter courtesy anymore? A simple “please” and “thank you” are gradually becoming archaic, let alone offering someone a ride.

This holds truer in the case of the elderly, who are used to youth’s insensitivity. They are pushed back in queues, honked at by passing vehicles for driving slow, not allowed to cross the road on foot by zipping vehicles, scoffed at for moving slow and fleeced whenever someone sees an opportunity.

So a “family” offering a lift on spotting them on foot in the searing heat, only comes across to them as civility.

Caution the best precaution

Having spent their lives dealing with all kinds of people and all kinds of situations, senior citizens never expect they could be taken for a ride, except when they are.

They may have frequently read similar cases in the papers, but it is often difficult to connect the dots when it happens to them.

The road to recovery from the traumatic experience can be long, with many victims giving up on venturing out alone or wearing ornaments again.

As such, it’s better to be cautious. While the youth need to look out for the senior citizens in their family, the elderly should be careful to avoid perilous situations that may not seem so. It’s time to revisit the age-old wisdom of being wary of strangers, for a small slip in judgement can cost dearly and leave one regretful.

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