Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Risk Keeping Large Sums at Home; Two Shocking Incidents within a Week Have Seen Thieves Targeting Pensioners in Their Own Homes and Making off with Sums of Cash. Now the Elderly Are Being Warned to Not Keep Large Amounts of Money in Their Homes - a Phenomenon Exacerbated by the Run on Northern Rock as Senior Citizens' Trust in Financial Institutions Is Further Eroded. the Journal's Audrey Forbes Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Risk Keeping Large Sums at Home; Two Shocking Incidents within a Week Have Seen Thieves Targeting Pensioners in Their Own Homes and Making off with Sums of Cash. Now the Elderly Are Being Warned to Not Keep Large Amounts of Money in Their Homes - a Phenomenon Exacerbated by the Run on Northern Rock as Senior Citizens' Trust in Financial Institutions Is Further Eroded. the Journal's Audrey Forbes Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Audrey Forbes

THE first incident was shocking enough - a 78-year-old woman in a suburb of Newcastle tied up and robbed by a gunman who had conned his way into her home.

The man, still being hunted by police, had duped his way into the pensioner's Jesmond home by claiming he needed to borrow a pen and paper, before making off with some cash.

The second was every bit as stark, and appalling. Pensioner Don Pape, 78, of Fawdon, Newcastle, was the victim of a gang of three men who tricked their way into his home, pretending to be from the gas board.

But aside from the shock of the incident, another surprising element was revealed - that the 78-year-old kept his entire life savings at home with him.

The pensioner had pounds 2,500 taken - money he was saving up for his own funeral - that was kept stashed in three wallets he kept on his person.

Now, pensioners are being warned to be on their guard against bogus callers - and to avoid taking the risk of keeping cash at home.

But it is a risk even more seem to be taking in the light of the Northern Rock crisis.

Billions of pounds have been withdrawn nationally from the troubled bank by its customers who queued up to withdraw their savings, many of whom are elderly North-Easterners.

Deputy chief officer of Age Concern Gateshead Ann-Marie Bainbridge said the bank's problems had triggered a rise in the number of pensioners stashing money in their homes.

She said: "We are finding this is happening more and more simply because older people have always been sceptical of using institutions we wouldn't think twice about.

"But what has happened with the Northern Rock has had a major influence recently.

"People have withdrawn money as they believe they have worked hard all their life for it and despite reassurances by the bank and the Government they don't want it going down the pan."

The Northern Rock's base is in the North-East and for many older people it has been a trusted brand.

Ms Bainbridge added: "The bank kept its local branches open and the older people tend to go more for the traditional banks and building societies."

She said prior to the crisis people had lost faith in the pensions system. …

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