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Spring Break Crime Prevention Tips:
The Sheriff's Office would like to remind Hillsborough County residents that Spring Break is next week, March 11-15, and encourage everyone to remain vigilant in observing and reporting crime or suspicious activity. You should immediately report any/all suspicious activity to the Sheriff's Office non-emergency dispatch at (813) 247-8200.
In the event of an emergency or a crime-in-progress, please dial 911! In addition, the best way to deter crime from ever occurring is to practice good crime prevention. Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself from becoming the victim of a crime.
- You can decrease the likelihood of your home being burglarized by making it more difficult for burglars to get in, and therefore a less desirable target.
- Burglars/criminals don't want to be seen committing their crimes! Make sure all exterior lights are adequate and fully operational. Check the bulbs and replace if needed.
- Whenever possible, illuminate your home at night, and/or set your exterior lights on a timer/motion detector when you are away.
- Remember, burglars don't want to be seen! Maintain landscaping and keep your yard, trees, plants and shrubs, etc. trimmed. Follow the 3/8 rule, based on CPTE (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design). Plants and shrubs should be kept no higher than 3 feet. Tree canopies should be no lower than 8 feet. This will create a window of visibility so you can see what's happening outside your neighbors' homes and they can see what's happening outside of yours!
- Secure your residence! Never leave doors, windows, or sliders unlocked or open when you're not at home. Even if it is only for a moment! If equipped, utilize your home's security/alarm system whenever possible. Have your security/alarm system checked regularly, to be sure that it is working properly. You can also add secondary locks/pins to doors, windows, and sliders for additional security. Don't ever leave garage doors open overnight.
- Participate in Operation ID. Make a list of your valuables and keep it in a secure location. The list should contain all your valuables, electronics, jewelry, etc. by listing each item, its make/model, serial number, and approximate worth. Document items, such as jewelry, that don't have a serial or otherwise owner applied number by taking pictures of them. The list of recorded information and photographs can then be used for identification purposes in the event of theft.
KIDS STAYING AT HOME:
- Try not to advertise you're on vacation via social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and be sure that your kids don't either. Broadcasting your away lets potential burglars know that your house is vacant and they've got plenty of time to burglarize your home!
- Whenever possible, have a trusted friend or neighbor "house sit" for you and/or periodically check your house, bring in the mail, newspapers, garbage cans, etc. while you're gone.
- Make sure your home is secure-lock all windows and doors; set your audible alarm (if equipped). Hide or remove any valuables in plain sight or secure items in a safe, safety deposit box, or other secure location.
- Make sure you can still be contacted in the event of an emergency.
WITH REGARD TO OPEN HOUSE PARTIES, ETC:
- Caution children staying at home during Spring Break to keep doors locked and the house alarm set.
- Teach your kids NOT to open the door to strangers and to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
- Children should have a trusted adult, family member, or neighbor that they can contact in the event of an emergency, after calling 911.
- Go over the "house rules" with your children. Talk about what friends they can visit and establish boundaries of where they ARE and ARE NOT allowed to roam, when you're not home.
- Be sure your kids know when curfew is and/or to check in with you when they are on their way home or running late.
- Deputies will be looking for open house parties where alcohol is served to minors or any acts of violence or child neglect/delinquency can occur. Be a responsible host! Inform yourself of the following State statutes:
856.015 (2) Open House Parties - "No person (18 or older) having control of any residence shall allow an open house party to take place at said residence if any alcoholic beverage or drug is possessed or consumed at said residence by any minor where the person knows that an alcoholic beverage or drug is in possession of or being consumed by a minor at said residence and where the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverage or drug. " (1st degree misdemeanor.)
827.03 (b) Neglect of a Child - "A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child and in doing so causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child..." (2nd or 3rd degree felony, depending on severity.)
827.04 (1)(a) Contributing to the Delinquency or Dependency of a Child - "Any person who commits any act which causes, tends to cause, encourages, or contributes to a child becoming delinquent or dependent child or a child in need of services" (1st degree misdemeanor.)
810.08 (1) Trespass - "Whoever, without being authorized, licensed or invited, willfully enters or remains in any structure or conveyance, or, having been authorized, licensed, or invited, is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises, or by a person authorized by the owner of lessee, to depart and refuses to do so, commits the offense of trespass in a structure or conveyance." (1st degree misdemeanor.)
DETER AUTO BURGLARY: LOCK YOUR DOORS!
- Acts of violence often occur when uninvited guests arrive. If any uninvited guests "crash" your party, ask them to leave. If they refuse, call the Sheriff's Office! To report underage drinking, child neglect/delinquency, or a trespass, contact the Sheriff's Office Non-Emergency Dispatch at 247-8200. In the event of an emergency, dial 911! You can also submit tips to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS or by texting "CSTB (plus the tip info)" to 274637.
- The majority of vehicle burglaries occur to unlocked vehicles!
- Always lock your vehicle when left unattended; roll up all the windows and lock all the doors!
- Never leave your vehicle unattended while the engine is running, even if only for a moment (it's a violation of State law!)
- Don't leave items of value inside your vehicle or out in plain slight (i.e. laptop, GPS, cell phone, briefcase, wallet, keys, cash, checkbook, purse, garage door opener, shopping bags, etc.) Remove these items from the vehicle or lock them in the trunk.
- Activate your vehicle's audible alarm system. If your vehicle is not equipped, consider having one installed.
- Whenever possible, park in well lit, highly visible area or inside a secured garage.