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Byron joins network to stop crimes for seniors

Health center gets local charter for nursing homes

Whether it takes place in a subdivision, rural homestead, urban setting or retirement community, crime has the same elements: a victim and a perpetrator.

For some victims, getting a crime resolved might be more difficult than for others.

Enter Senior Crimestoppers, a national organization focusing on crime in nursing homes and long-term care centers, including Byron Health Center in Fort Wayne.

Much like the Crime Stoppers program, which makes pleas on television, in newspapers and on billboards for the public’s help in solving crimes, Senior Crimestoppers offers a toll-free number for anyone to report information about crimes that occur in senior housing or other care centers.

“Partnering with this nationally acclaimed crime-prevention program adds yet another layer of safety to our residents and their families,” Deb Lambert, CEO of Byron Health Center, said of the new partnership.

Byron’s venture with Senior Crimestoppers marks the debut of the program in the area, according to John Drebenstedt, director of marketing and public relations for Byron Health.

Byron’s interest in the program started earlier this year when the care facility received an invitation from Senior Crimestoppers and Centier Bank chose Byron to receive the local charter membership.

The banking industry exclusively funds the program, which is offered in senior housing facilities, HUD communities and veterans homes, according to the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation’s website.

Once in place at a housing facility, residents and staff can call the toll-free tip line to Senior Crimestoppers regarding unsolved crimes. The organization will post information about the offenses at the facility and offer cash rewards of up to $1,000.

Many of the crimes detailed on the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation’s website regarding other locations with the program in place involved the theft of residents’ property. In a more extreme case, Senior Crimestoppers received information which led to the arrest and firing of a care provider after a resident was abused and then positioned outside a center in such a way as to make it look like a random mugging.

Byron Health hopes the partnership will not only allow a way for crimes to be solved but, more important, to serve as a prevention program and deter problems before they occur.

When in full operation, anyone with information about crimes at Byron posted by Senior Crimestoppers can call 800-590-5850.

Aside from access to the tip line, each resident at a chartered facility has access to lock boxes in their living spaces.

Byron Health will get its charter at a ceremony Wednesday morning at the center.

“We are thrilled to be a part of Senior Crimestoppers,” Lambert said.