Sheriff’s Office offers tips to visitors and residents to ensure a safe spring break

Enhanced patrols provided in various areas of the county

Siesta Key is among the county’s most popular destinations during the spring break period. File photo

With colleges’ and school districts’ spring break observances underway, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is enhancing patrols in areas of the county, the office has announced.

“An increased law enforcement presence at local beaches and popular entertainment establishments is intended to disrupt incidents before they happen and reduce crimes of opportunity,” a Sheriff’s Office news release says. “Special attention is being paid to underage drinking and drug possession, as well as traffic enforcement,” the release adds.

The Sheriff’s Office also is posting safety reminders on electronic message boards that read, “Be Beach Smart,” “Lock Up Valuable Items” and “Enjoy Your Visit,” the release notes.

Additionally, Sheriff’s Office personnel are giving out “Beach Smart” cards with tips to help beach-goers reduce their risk of theft, the release continues.

“We are fortunate to live in a great community that tourists want to visit, and we want both our guests and residents to enjoy this time of year in Sarasota County,” said Sheriff Tom Knight in the release. “The beach is a popular place to visit and unfortunately a prime place for crimes of opportunity. Make sure you never leave your personal items unattended and always be aware of your surroundings. This campaign is about people enjoying their vacation, but never to take a vacation from safety.”

Knight asks the public to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Lock the doors and windows at your place of lodging and hide spare keys carefully.
  • Do not leave valuables out in the open. Lock them in a safe when you plan to leave your hotel room or other accommodations, or leave them in the care of security personnel.
  • Always carry wallets, purses, and room and car keys securely.
  • Watch out for traffic while crossing the street and always use designated crosswalks.
  • When driving, obey speed limits, pay attention to road signs, and watch for pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists.
  • If you have valuables in your car, keep them out of sight at all times. Lock them in the trunk, glove box or console. Covering them with a blanket or clothing does not deter criminals.
  • Park only in designated, open parking spaces to avoid fines or being towed. Pay attention to time and day restrictions on parking signs.
  • If you are traveling with small children, use your cell phone to take a photo of them when you arrive at your destination. This photo will help law enforcement officers locate your child if you become separated from him or her.
  • Before your group ventures out, agree on a meeting place in case members become separated from each other.
  • If you plan to consume alcohol, know your limits, do not leave drinks unattended and do not accept an open drink from a stranger.