SAN ANTONIO – Wednesday the Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood addressed criminals targeting seniors.
"They have earned their right to enjoy their golden years," LaHood said.
Yet, criminals target seniors for their money and worse.
With more than five million people in Texas over the age of 65, there is a new push to protect them.
KENS 5 caught up with 76-year-old Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez Wednesday during an art class at the Salvation Army.
It's always been a creative outlet for him, selling his first painting when he was 10-years-old. Later creating a bond between him and his wife when they first fell in love.
And three years ago, the therapy he needed to help recover after having a stroke.
"Art is life to me," said Sanchez as he worked on his latest piece.
Now it's security because he's able to sell his art.
"I get some social security. But its' not that much I have to supplement it with my artwork," Sanchez said.
Ramon and his wife Maria know the realities of a fixed income. More troubling, they know how vulnerable seniors can be.
"You hear things that happen every day of people getting ripped off," Maria Sanchez said.
Adult protective services are now raising awareness about scam artists who targeted more than a thousand people in Texas last year. One in four senior live in isolation, which leaves them as prime targets.
"We honor our elders by making sure they are not mistreated in any way," said LaHood.
Wednesday LaHood also said it's more than money but that seniors need to be more protected from abuse along with kids and the disabled. Announcing he wants tougher laws for serial abusers by upgrading charges to first-degree felonies, which comes with more prison time.
Maria and Ramon are wary of the different crimes that affect seniors. For two years the number of seniors exploited financially went up in Texas, dropping for the first time last year. But not enough for them to let their guard down.
So instead they keeping picking up their paint brush to make sure they protect their security.
"If it wasn't for this place I would have a job to paint," Sanchez said.
(© 2016 KENS)