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Life Alert Device Helps Catch North Austin Criminal
A 97-year-old woman is fighting back against crime. A man is accused of targeting her, robbing her and attacking her in her own home, but she had a life-saving weapon on her side to help defend herself and her house.
Vikki Branning's job has taught her to expect the worst. “You always think it won't happen to you,” said Branning a 30-year-veteran with Travis County EMS. “I never get in that mode, because I know that it can.”
So when it comes to her 97-year-old-mother safety, she's taken precautions. “People fall, they have issues, she's 97-years-old!” said Branning about helping prepare her mother for an emergency.
Her mother’s old age is the reason police believe she was probably targeted for a home invasion.
A robber broke into the elderly woman’s house through her back window, and when she went to confront him, police say he assaulted her and stole her phone so she couldn't call for help.
But the 97-year-old was didn’t need a phone to call police. With one push of a button, her Life Alert personal safety device alerted police to the crime in progress.
The quick response got the elderly woman the medical attention she needed to make a full recovery and had police quickly tracking down their suspect. Jonathan Hodges is now in jail, charged with burglary and felony assault.
“We believe he’d been in the neighborhood before, checked out the location,” said APD detective Ciaran Crozier. “He knew there was a 97-year-old female living there under circumstances that made her a vulnerable target. They saw her as someone who was easy pickings.”
Purchasing Life Alert was a decision the family made years ago; one that gives Branning piece of mind about her mother’s independence.
“I'm very concerned for my mother,” said Branning. “I wish she didn't live where does, and she would move to an assisted living, but some people who are able to take care of themselves insist on staying in their own places.”
According to APD, only 5 percent of Austin’s home robberies happen at night. The majority are during the day when no one's home.
APD detectives say people that break into homes at night can be more dangerous than those that burglarize houses during the day. Alarms, lights, and making sure all doors/windows are closed and locked are tips from police to help keep from becoming a victim.
By Karen Kiley