Spring break means enhanced crime prevention efforts for Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Office offers plenty of advice to help residents and visitors alike avoid unwelcome incidents

Mounted Patrol Deputies Karla Small and Ben Kern pose for out-of-town visitors on Siesta Public Beach on March 1. Photo courtesy of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office via Twitter

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 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. (See Siesta Seenin this issue.)

The Sheriff’s Office is posting safety reminders on electronic signboards that read “Be Beach Smart,” “Lock Up Valuable Items,” and “Enjoy Your Visit,” the release points out. Additionally, the agency is distributing “Beach Smart” cards with tips to help tourists and 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 wallet or cell phone under your towel while you go for a swim creates an opportunity for thieves. Citizens should remember to never leave personal items unattended and always be aware of their surroundings,” Knight added in the release. “This spring break safety campaign is about people enjoying their vacation, but never taking a vacation from safety.”

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:

  • Become familiar with your surroundings, including nearby streets and landmarks.
  • Keep valuables out of sight by locking them in the 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; 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 do not 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.
Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Spring break spans the months of March and April in Sarasota County, the release notes. The period coincides with several annual spring events in the community, including the Sarasota County Fair.

“Crime prevention efforts will enlist multiple agency resources,” the release says, including mobile assets, in an effort to reach a variety of areas throughout the county. The office also puts a focus on specific events and activities, the release adds.

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

The public also 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 points out. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office encourages people to connect with it on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.