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updated: 3/3/2015 2:38 PM

Models 'strut their stuff' during Naperville senior scam prevention event

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  • Uniformed workers from businesses or agencies such as Comcast, the U.S. Postal Service and municipal police, fire and code enforcement departments will be part of a "Who's Really Knocking at Your Door" fashion Friday in Naperville to help seniors avoid door-to-door scams.

    Uniformed workers from businesses or agencies such as Comcast, the U.S. Postal Service and municipal police, fire and code enforcement departments will be part of a "Who's Really Knocking at Your Door" fashion Friday in Naperville to help seniors avoid door-to-door scams.
    Daily Herald file photo February 2010

 
 

Utility company employees, delivery drivers and city code enforcers aren't usually the stuff of fashion shows.

Cops and firefighters aren't usually models -- except as eye-candy-of-the-month on fundraising calendars.

But that all will change Friday in Naperville, when several government organizations will collaborate to offer a fashion show for seniors to help them avoid scams.

"Who's Really Knocking at Your Door" will be part serious information about avoiding door-to-door scams called ruse burglaries and part campy fun, said Jack Kreger of Naperville, a volunteer with the senior-serving organization Naperville Lisle Townships Triad, which is among those hosting the event.

"It's some education, some empowerment and some fun, too, because the models strut their stuff, usually to some pop music or disco," Kreger said. "The models are encouraged to camp it up by dancing or whatever."

During the two-hour event from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Naperville Park District's Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center, 305 W. Jackson Ave., presenters will bookend a factual presentation with acting and modeling. Julie Smith, crime prevention specialist for the Naperville Police Department, said presenters will teach seniors to be skeptical of everyone who rings their doorbell, asking "Why are you here?" "What do you need?" and "Can I see some ID?"

"We're all taught to be polite and take everyone's word at face value," Smith said. "We really want to empower seniors to ask questions and be proactive and be suspicious."

The free event will begin with a skit of costumed presenters acting out a ruse burglary, a typical one in which one person disguised as a municipal employee, utility worker or delivery driver distracts the homeowner and another burglar sneaks inside to steal valuables.

"Sometimes older people don't want to offend anyone, so they see what looks like an authority figure and open the door when they shouldn't," Kreger said.

After the skit, presenters including park district police, DuPage County sheriff's personnel and representatives of several Naperville city departments, will explain why they would visit a house, what type of uniform they wear, what identification they would have, even what kind of vehicle they would be driving and where they would park.

"One of our main goals is to increase awareness of crimes against seniors," Smith said. "It's such a serious topic, so it's nice to be able to present it in a lighthearted way."

The most fun comes at the end of the event, when employees of Comcast, AT&T, Nicor, FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service, Easy Care Pharmacy and Phillips Flowers will walk the runway, showing off their signature look and style.

This is one of several "Who's Really Knocking at Your Door" seminars to be held since the idea was developed by police in Elgin and Kane County in 2010, Kreger said. Triad organizations, which are collaborations of law enforcement, seniors and businesses, have hosted these fashion shows throughout the state to engage and inform older residents.

The fashion show works much better than a boring lecture, organizers have found.

"Seeing some live entertainment is always a memorable experience," Kreger said.

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