Elderly burglary victims 'die earlier'

Campaigners for the elderly spoke of their deep concern today following a report suggesting pensioners who are burgled are far more likely to die earlier than others of similar age.

Age Concern said Home Office research showing burglary has a greater impact on the elderly than was previously believed would enhance fear of crime amongst old people.

A spokeswoman said: "Age Concern is deeply worried by Home Office figures which show that older people who suffer burglary are more likely to die earlier than those who have not.

"The fear of crime for older people is very real, albeit in reality older people are less likely to be victims than other age groups. Statistics such as these enhance that fear.

"Age Concern would urge the Government to work with organisations such as ours to form comprehensive crime prevention programmes that would enable older people to live their lives without the constant fear of being victims of crime."

The study, seen by BBC News, examined the cases of elderly burglary victims in sheltered accommodation.

It was found that their health deteriorated faster than expected and some became so frail they had to be moved into residential care.

The key finding was that those whose homes had been broken into were twice as likely to be dead within two years as people of a similar age who had not been burgled.

The report called for security in sheltered housing to be improved.

It also recommended that burglary victims be kept informed of the progress of their case to help alleviate their distress.

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