Americans travel during the warm summer months more than any other time of year. Criminals often take advantage of this busy season, preying upon weary travelers or watching for unattended homes or vehicles. With that in mind, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association offers the following travel tips for a safe and happy summer:
Before you leave:
• When you leave your residence, try to make your home look as occupied as possible. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to pick up mail and newspaper or package deliveries daily. Invest in a few electrical timers to activate lights at the same time you normally do when you are at home. Set your radio on a talk station so anyone listening at a door or window will hear conversation. (Keep the radio on a timer, too.)
• Notify your sheriff’s office that you will be away and ask them to check your residence. Let them know of light timers, alarm systems, and vehicles left visible in the driveway.
• If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, consider arranging for a house sitter to stay in your residence. House sitters water plants, take care of pets, and can also be called upon to keep the lawn mowed so it doesn’t advertise your absence.
• Cancel regular deliveries, such as food, pharmacy prescriptions, or pet supplies.
• Before you leave, take a final walk through your home to make sure appliances are turned off and windows and doors are secure.
• Since summer storms can come up suddenly, you may want to unplug electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, or fax machines.
While you’re traveling:
• Remember to remain alert and watchful, especially in crowds. Many travelers have invested in small, flat bags that hang from neck cords to store money, credit cards, passports, and other important identification. Avoid carrying wallets in a rear pocket that could be easily “picked.”
• At hotels, avoid hanging the “housekeeping” sign on your doorknob. That alerts the observer to your absence from the room.
• Avoid discussing your travel plans where strangers may overhear you.
• If you are the victim of a theft or any other crime, contact the local law enforcement agency and file a report immediately. Provide contact information so they may keep you updated on any developments in your case. • Remember to lock doors and windows securely. Always lock the doors in your vehicle.
As your sheriff, it is my hope that if you travel during the warm weather season that you will remain safe. I would encourage anyone traveling to take advantage of our extra patrol for your home or business while you are away. Towns County has enjoyed a decrease in crime over the last 8+ years, with burglaries down over 65%.
The biggest part of that success is the community’s involvement in initiatives such as our Extra Patrol and Neighborhood Watch programs. To take advantage of our Extra Patrol service, simply contact the Towns County Sheriff’s Office at 706-896-4444 and ask to be placed on extra patrol while you are away. We will keep an eye on your home and let you know if anything is amiss, hopefully adding peace of mind to your time away.