The NYPD has taken a new step to stop crime against the elderly. On Tuesday, August 8, the NYPD handed out 20,000 reflective bracelets to senior citizens. The bracelets come equipped with small blue devices which, when pressed, let out a high pitched alarm.

The police told New York Daily News that the bracelets are meant to scare off criminals and to alert those residents who may be nearby. The bracelets were provided by officers at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center in Harlem. They also come at a time of increasing crime against the elderly.

Just this past February, Eve Gentillon, 69, of Queens, passed away after being put into a coma when a drunken man exiting a Jamaica deli punched her in the face. Her injuries, sustained from falling to the concrete, resulted in severe brain injury and eventually her death.

Elderly Americans may be less likely to suffer from violent crimes in the United States, but they are certainly the most vulnerable group. Unlike those who are younger, the elderly often suffer from frailty which can impair one’s ability to fight back against thieves. Even running from an attacker becomes difficult — up to 6.8 million Americans use devices like canes in order to assist with their mobility.

As with Eve Gentillon, older citizens are also more likely to sustain terrible injuries from falls due to criminal contact. That means an elderly American may very well be in a life threatening situation even if the criminal confrontation is minor such as the theft of personal property. Up to 0.5% of Americans suffer from personal theft every year and although only a one-third of Americans are likely to spend over $1,000 on jewelry, thieves can still take wallets.

Such was the case with Richard Scalera, 74, on Thursday, August 4. Scalera had been just outside his West Village apartment building when a thief came from behind and slammed his face into the door. The thief then stole Scalera’s wallet, where the man had just placed $400 after coming from the bank.

Scalera is not alone in his assault. Since July 23, the New York Daily Post reports that the NYPD has tracked up to 3,266 crimes against New Yorkers over the age of 65. While robberies have been brought down by 7%, assaults have risen 5%.

Fortunately for these Americans, the NYPD takes care of its own. “It’s to help them be more aware,” said NYPD Community Affairs Chief Joanne Jaffe regarding the bracelets. “We love our seniors and we respect our seniors and we want to do what we can. We want to empower them.”

Instead of urging elderly New Yorkers to stay in pairs or to walk where there is sufficient lighting on the streets, the NYPD is equipping their citizens with what they really need: security.

“It’s excellent for me,” said Augustine Peterson, 95, to the New York Daily Post. “At my age, sometimes I go to the store or something, and when I go home, it’s dark. These things are very good for my safety.”

The NYPD will be distributing the bracelets and alarms through the five boroughs throughout the rest of the summer. And, for more assistance, the New York seniors will also be given information regarding financial scams.