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Biddeford Savings Funds Crime Prevention Program

Feb 24, 2012

The employees of Biddeford Savings get very fond of their customers. Over time they get to know families, attitudes, habits, and life milestones. As a community bank, they treat all customers like family.

Biddeford, ME – The employees of Biddeford Savings get very fond of their customers. Over time they get to know families, attitudes, habits, and life milestones. As a community bank, they treat all customers like family. So when the staff at one of their Biddeford offices noticed that an elderly customer was uncharacteristically and repeatedly withdrawing large amounts of money over a short period of time, they grew concerned. They were right to be worried.

After speaking with the customer, they notified the Department of Human Services and the police who discovered that the customer had been bilked of tens of thousands of dollars by scam artists promising to deliver a lottery prize, provided all “taxes” were paid in advance.

Dale Huot, executive vice president of Biddeford Savings (left), presents a plaque to Andrea Otis-Higgins, CEO of St. André Health Care in Biddeford, recognizing St. André as a charter member of the Senior Crimestoppers Program of the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation.

“Unfortunately, these sorts of crimes against the elderly are happening more,” says Dale Huot, executive vice president at Biddeford Savings, who is responsible at the bank for overseeing the monitoring of suspicious activity against the elderly. “Perhaps it’s a sign of the times or simply the ability of internet scam artists to reach directly into the home, but seniors in our country are a growing target. That’s why we’ve chosen to become more aggressive in fighting this sort of crime.”

According to Huot, as an initial step, Biddeford Savings is funding a Senior Crimestoppers program for seniors residing in the St. André Health Care facility in Biddeford. Administered by the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation, Inc. (SHCPF), Senior Crimestoppers is a program with a coordinated set of components that work together to eliminate crime in senior housing facilities. Components include personal lockboxes for the residents, cash rewards of up to $1,000 paid anonymously for information about wrongdoing of any kind, a 24 hour call center to report suspected crime activity, and education and training for staff members and residents.

According to Kay Joest, vice president of the SHCPF, who was on hand with bank officials to inaugurate the charter program at St. André, the Crimestoppers program has reduced all aspects of crime in participating facilities by 92%.

“Senior Crimestoppers is a way for St. André to further enhance the lives of the residents they serve,” notes Joest. “Although St. André does not have a crime problem, they have chosen to act proactively with Biddeford Savings in finding a way to keep problems from occurring in the future. The professionals there work very hard to provide a safe, secure, comfortable living environment for their residents. Their desire to implement the program is just one more example of their commitment.”

“St André is extremely grateful for Biddeford Savings’ senior advocacy and generosity,” says Andrea Otis-Higgins, St. André CEO. “While St. André has historically had a very low crime rate, the Crimestoppers program enables us to access resources to achieve our goal of zero tolerance. We look forward to partnering with Biddeford Savings in deterring crime against seniors throughout the Biddeford-Saco community.”

“We see this as an opportunity to play a pivotal role in preventing crimes against the elderly in our communities,” notes Charles Petersen, president and CEO of Biddeford Savings. “We’ve always viewed customers as family – and family members watch out for each other. The Senior Crimestoppers program offers another set of eyes to help keep our elderly customers safe.”