In full ‘spring break mode,’ Sheriff’s Office enhancing crime prevention efforts and providing safety tips

Anyone with concerns should dial 911 or non-emergency number: 316-1201

Members of the Sheriff’s Office Mounted Patrol make their way through the parking lot at Siesta Public Beach. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, via a video

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is enhancing crime prevention efforts again this year as spring break visitors come to the area and local students enjoy their time off from school, the department announced this week.

“An increased law enforcement presence at local beaches and popular entertainment establishments is intended to prevent crimes of opportunity and disrupt incidents before they occur,” a news release explains.

The Sheriff’s Office is using electronic sign boards to post public safety messages, the release adds: “Be Beach Smart,” “Lock Up Valuable Items,” and “Enjoy Your Visit.” Deputies also are distributing “Beach Smart” cards with tips to help tourists and other beachgoers reduce their risk of theft, the release notes.

“It is a beautiful time of year to visit Sarasota County and while we want citizens to enjoy their stay, we also want them to make safety a priority,” said Sheriff Tom Knight in the release. “Leaving your cell phone under your towel while you go for a swim creates an opportunity for thieves,” he added in the release. “Citizens should never leave personal items unattended and always be aware of their surroundings. This spring break safety campaign is about people enjoying their vacation, but never taking a vacation from safety.”

The department also has produced a YouTube video in an effort to promote safety, the news release says.

Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to keep the following tips in mind, whether they are staying on the Suncoast for spring break or visiting elsewhere, the release notes:

  • Become familiar with your surroundings, including nearby streets and landmarks.
  • Keep valuables out of sight by locking them in the trunk of your vehicle or in your hotel room safe.
  • Always carry wallets, purses and room and car keys securely.
  • Lock the doors and windows at your hotel and always lock your vehicle.
  • Obey traffic signals and speed limits; avoid any distractions.
  • Utilize crosswalks and sidewalks. Make your presence known to motorists.
  • Never advertise your plans to strangers — in person or online.
  • Stay with your group and never leave with a stranger.
  • Keep your drink in sight and never accept open drinks from people you do not know.
  • Have a designated driver or utilize a taxi service.
  • Be observant and report any and all suspicious activity.

Spring break spans the months of March and April in Sarasota County and coincides with several local events, including the Sarasota County Fair and Spring Training baseball, the release points out. “Crime prevention efforts will enlist multiple agency resources,” including mobile assets, to reach various areas throughout the county based on specific events and activities, the release says.

As always, residents and visitors may contact the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office by dialing 911 or by using the agency’s non-emergency line, which is 941-316-1201.

Additionally, the public may submit crime tips and receive traffic alerts and local weather updates through the agency’s free mobile app, which is available for download on both iPhone and Android devices.

The Sheriff’s Office also encourages people to connect with its staff on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.