Comment: Heartless seems too soft a word for it

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IT is hard to imagine just what kind of despicable human beings would prey on the elderly . . . counting on being able to browbeat their hapless victims into handing over cash, using their presence and intimidating language or persuasive lies, exploiting fear and concern and confusion to get what they want and not a thought for the years of hard work that have earned that money or the deprivation that may be caused by no longer having it. Heartless seems too soft a word.

Do not let anyone say that these are somehow lesser crimes. They are cruel crimes against people who will feel awful for having fallen for it and who will no longer trust themselves or others. A loss of confidence that might never be recovered at a time of life when help might be most needed.

But such low people exist as is clear from our story today. The question is, apart from urging the justice system to deal as harshly as possible with these people, what can we do about crimes such as these?

These men had been out and about trying to find a victim for days, they had targeted addresses across the north and west of the city until eventually finding their victim. Who knows, they may have got more cash but the victim is too ashamed to come forward. It is clear that in cases like these the criminals just move around until they score.

It is vital that anyone who is approached by someone who arrives unsolicited and demands cash up front reports the approach as soon as possible. That might allow police to get them as they go about their terrible trade, but perhaps more importantly it would allow police to issue an alert. When any such alert is issued people could then check on family or neighbours to make sure they are aware.

And it is important that everyone knows never to allow cold callers in, always to check credentials and to remember that if they feel at all pressured just to send the callers away, then contact the police.

Let’s hope these men are caught.