Council operator alerted emergency services after OAP burgled

PUBLISHED: 09:50 18 August 2009 | UPDATED: 23:59 15 June 2010

AN East Devon District Council operator alerted the emergency services about the plight of an elderly woman who had confronted burglars in her sheltered home at Aylesbeare.

AN East Devon District Council operator alerted the emergency services about the plight of an elderly woman who had confronted burglars in her sheltered home at Aylesbeare.

As a result, the woman was rushed to hospital by ambulance and a tape of the call has been copied to police investigating the incident, which happened during Saturday night.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the operator at EDDC's Home Safeguard service, which also manages the Council's emergency out-of-hours number, took a call from the woman's neighbour, who wanted to report banging coming from the property next door.

The operator realised that the banging was coming from a sheltered bungalow in Scothmead, listed in the Home Safeguard alarm service roster. So she telephoned the elderly woman to see if she was all right.

The woman, who is thought to have disturbed burglars who had entered her home in the middle of the night, replied via the alarm system's speaker phone that she was on the floor and could not move, following a burglary. The operator kept the line open while she rang for the police and an ambulance. Then she phoned the victim's son.

The 88-year-old woman is now in hospital, where she will be having an operation on a broken hip.

The quick-thinking Home Safeguard operator was praised today by Councillor Miss Jill Elson, EDDC's Portfolio Holder Communities, who is responsible for the sheltered housing schemes and home alarm service operated by EDDC.

Miss Elson said: "Elderly and vulnerable people who are clients of our Home Safeguard service have come to expect a high standard of assistance if they contact us in an emergency. But this was something above and beyond the norm.

"The operator quickly realised that the property concerned was one of our sheltered bungalows and so she rang to check that the occupant was well. Her initiative saved a lot of time in finding this elderly lady and is an example of excellent customer care.

"Clients have a pull string on the wall but also wear a pendant around their neck in case they collapse and cannot reach the string. It appears that the lady at Aylesbeare was not wearing her pendant at the time of this incident. This case underlines the importance of wearing the pendant at all times.

"The Home Safeguard service has approximately 6,500 clients and is an invaluable way for elderly and vulnerable people to protect themselves in the event of an emergency. It's just so sad that this emergency was a result of a burglary."

EDDC's Mobile Support Officer will be visiting Aylesbeare on to speak with other tenants and Home Safeguard clients and check on their welfare after the incident. She will also review the security of the accommodation to see if it needs upgrading.

East Devon's Community Safety Officer, Gerry Moore, said: "Happily, incidents of this kind are very unusual in our area. Burglaries are decreasing and crime levels generally are lower than average.

"Our advice to any elderly or vulnerable person is to keep your doors and windows locked. If you want to open windows in warm weather, ensure you have locking devices so they cannot be used by intruders to gain entry to the property.


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