BRADENTON -- The State Attorney's Office is working with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office to more aggressively track down merciless criminals who are targeting our most defenseless citizens – our elderly. But authorities believe that with an educated public, tweaks to some local laws, along with employing some new technology, more of these offenders can be caught, while citizens become less vulnerable.
Michelle Hall, counsel for the Manatee County Sheriff's office, and Lisa Chittaro, Assistant State Attorney for the 12th Circuit, reported at Tuesday's BOCC meeting on the difficulty solving crimes perpetrated upon our elderly population. Chittaro and Hall are preparing an Elder Abuse Program designed to expedite and broaden their legal scope, as well as the time lines authorities are up against when trying to catch a thief.
The number of theft and abuse crimes perpetrated against the elderly are growing at an alarming rate. These crimes often go unreported, because the victim either knows the thief, is embarrassed to have fallen for a scam, or just wants to try and get past the fear and forget the loss. But seldom do the victims ever forget, or get over the loss – and rarely are charges filed, or the property ever returned.
Chittaro and Hill say they will be reaching for regulations that are over and above what is currently on the books. Records are now being kept for three years, but both wish to extend the hold on records to five years.
Authorities are seeking to get the thumb print of the seller put on the hard copy receipt, and pictures of each item bought and sold. If and ordinance is adopted, lawmakers are asking that any payout over $100 be paid by check and not cash, as to make it more traceable.
Currently "secondhand" sellers only have to wait for 15 days before they can legally sell their purchase. Chittaro and Hall want it extended to 30 days, and want to insist the product is maintained at the local premises where the purchase was made.
State Attorney, Ed Brodsky personally asked Chittaro to head the Elder Abuse Program, and Chittaro said, "There isn't anything else I'd rather do."
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