Much crime against the elderly involves embezzlement by family members. In one Michigan case reported by the Detroit Free Press, a daughter spent $113,000 in 10 months on mall shopping and fast food from funds that her elderly mother saved for assisted living. “If they’re alive, they need their money — it’s not there so people can steal it,” says Macomb County, Mi., prosecutor Suzanne Faunce. Seniors “need extra protection; they need extra help in court,” she said.
Especially in tough economic times, authorities said, some relatives in need of money see a grandma or an elderly uncle as an easy mark because they already know where they live and what cash and possessions they have. There also are the artists. Jack Pickett, 84, went outside to meet two men impersonating electric company workers. The men — serial criminals — severely beat and robbed Pickett, demanding he turn over cash in his house. State Sen. Dennis Olshove wants to increase the punishment for those convicted of ripping off seniors’ savings.