Bullies pick on scooter rider

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HASTINGS police are looking into incidences around the town of elderly users of mobility scooters being stood over and bullied by youths.

Mornington Peninsula Shire mobility scooter ambassador Fran Henke went to the police after hearing from a friend who intervened last week when a woman was being bullied by eight youths in the Ritchie’s arcade.

“I wanted advice on the kind of personal alarm that mobility scooter users might carry,” Mrs Henke said. “But, coincidentally, another person at the police station was making a related inquiry so I joined in.

“The man had three pages listing similar events and said his wife was now too scared to go out on her scooter. He identified the group of youths responsible for the bullying as living on the eastern side of Hastings.

“In the arcade, however, the youths were reportedly wearing a local school uniform. This was the terrified woman’s second time of being mobbed.

“On the previous occasion she said the youths demanded she get off her scooter and give them a ride. When she said no one thrust his fist in her face threateningly.”

In another instance, a witness saw an elderly man buy cigarettes at Richie’s rebuilt cigarette counter: outside waiting for him was a mob which demanded the packet. “He just had to hand it over,” the witness said.

Scooter users have been advised to carry a small, loud alarm to alert passers-by if they require assistance.

Mrs Henke said a Hastings police officer said alarms were available online and she bought one for $13.

She said she had “been assured that a taskforce is being planned to look into this problem”.

“For those of us who can’t walk far, mobility scooters are a boon, getting us out into the community, into the fresh air, rather than being isolated,” Mrs Henke said.

“It is appalling that elderly people can’t move around in their town in safety”.

Mrs Henke suggests having an alarm within easy reach on the scooter; carrying a mobile phone (but not visibly); dialling 000 if sensing trouble; planning scooter trips in peopled areas, and don’t leave a purse or phone in an open basket where they might easily be grabbed.

First published in the Western Port News – 6 June 2017

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