Sheriff’s Office presence increased at beaches and other popular locations as spring break season gets underway

Department offers tips for ensuring visitors and residents stay safe while having fun

Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is enhancing crime prevention efforts again this year as local students and visitors enjoy the Suncoast during spring break, the department has announced.

“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 also is encouraging beachgoers to take personal responsibility by staying updated on current [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC guidelines during their visit,” the release points out.

Further, the Sheriff’s Office recommends that residents and visitors alike keep the following tips in mind, regardless of where they go, the release emphasizes:
• Become familiar with your surroundings, including nearby streets and landmarks.

  • Keep valuables out of sight by locking them in a vehicle trunk or 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 and 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.
  • Designate a sober driver or utilize a ride-sharing service.
  • Be observant and report any and all suspicious activity.
  • If you are visiting a public beach, remember to “pack in and pack out.” Keep shorelines litter-free by taking everything with you when you leave.
  • If you are visiting the beach or a crowded area with small children, take a photo of what they are wearing before you arrive. This photo can help law enforcement personnel locate your child if you become separated.

“This is a great time of year to enjoy Sarasota County’s beautiful parks, beaches and entertainment,” Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman said in the release, “which is why we created this spring break safety campaign. We want to ensure visitors are equipped with knowledge and resources that will help them enjoy a safe visit here on the Suncoast,” he added.

Spring break spans the months of March and April in Sarasota County, the release explains. The season coincides with several local events, including the Sarasota County Fair and Major League Baseball Spring Training games. Crime prevention efforts will involve multiple agency resources, including mobile assets, to reach various areas throughout the county, based on specific events and activities, the release points out.

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

Additionally, members of the public can 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 release notes.

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

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