LIHUE — Marian Ogata believes it’s important to be reminded about how scammers take advantage of people, especially the older population.
“Senior citizens tend to forget, so it’s good to be reminded because they tend to be targeted,” she said.
It’s a sentiment Karen Hiranaka echoes.
“It happens to everyone,” she said.
How to recognize scams and ways to handle them was one of the topics discussed by Kauai police on Tuesday at the Lihue Neighborhood Center as part of an ongoing kupuna outreach program.
“Unfortunately, there’s people out there who take advantage of everybody. They don’t have the aloha spirit,” said Darryl Perry, police chief.
About 50 seniors attended the meeting. They heard about KPD’s recruitment process, recent accreditation, safety and how to report suspicious behavior to the police.
Paul Applegate, KPD captain, said a lot of questions he gets from the community is when to call police.
“If you’re not sure, I would say to call,” he said. “Let the police officer say everything is OK. If you hear something or see something suspicious, we would rather you call for our service.”
The non-emergency number to reach dispatch is 241-1711. But, if it’s an emergency, that’s the time to call 911.
“If you need police service, you want to describe why they’re calling. They want to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of what’s happening,” Applegate said.
If a car is driving around with its lights off at night, or if someone is walking around the side of a house, that would be the time to report what is happening to the police because the driver could be casing the house to burglarize it, he said.
But before calling, it’s important to get as much information as possible — like a description of the person, car and license plate number, Applegate said.
“Those are important details to find the people and question them if we need to,” he said.
A good habit is keeping a notepad and pen near the window.
“If you’re going to call police for assistance, you’re going to want to be accurate, and I don’t want you going outside and showing yourself. I want you to get behind a curtain, peek out and write down what you see,” Applegate said.
Loretta King, a 90-year-old Lihue resident, said she appreciated the safety tips.
“It’s scary when you live alone, and you need to be suspicious,” she said.
Bryson Ponce said one of his relatives lost all of her money when a scammer called after her husband died.
“We wanted to make sure she had enough money, so we sold one of our properties to build her income. Five years later, she had negative $800,” he said. “If it can happen to her, it can happen to everyone.”
KPD is hosting three more community meetings this year.
w April 25 at 10 a.m. at Kaumakani Neighborhood Center
w April 27 at 9:30 a.m. at Waimea Neighborhood Center
w May 17 at 10 a.m. at Kilauea Neighborhood Center
“Protect yourself because you work hard for your money and your social security. People in Hawaii are so trusting, but you have to be extra cautious,” Ponce said. “The people on the other line, they don’t care about you.”