JEFFERSON CITY - As spring break approaches for residents in Jefferson City and Columbia, Cole County Sheriff's representatives said Wednesday there are a couple of things residents should be aware of before they head out of town. Burglaries and break-ins increase during spring break.
Captain John Wheeler of the Cole County Sheriff's Department said everyone has to be careful. Wheeler encouraged residents not to announce that they are going out of town. Wheeler said to find a trusted neighbor or friend to get mail and check on homes. Social media is another component people need to be aware of. Wheeler said, "Don't post that you are going to be gone, or how that you are going to be gone for a long period of time."
Residential halls and student housing are often targeted first due to the amount of people gone.
Students are particular targets on spring break. Officials offer ten ways for them not to become burglary victims:
1. Be sure to keep doors locked at all times.
2. Do not prop open exit and entrance doors.
3. Report suspicious activity immediately to public safety officials at your respective school.
4. Let someone know about your travel plans. (e.g.: roommate, R.A., R.H.C.)
5. Be prepared! Have a "What If" plan.
6. Keep your valuables secure and hidden from view. Do not leave valuables visible in your room.
7. Do not abuse drugs or alcohol.
8. Do not walk alone in dark and unfamiliar areas. Contact campus escorts.
9. Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
10. Make sure you know who it is before opening your door to visitors.
Although certain areas are targeted more than others, Wheeler said everyone should beware of spring break crime. Wheeler said, "Truthfully nowadays everything could be a target with what's going on today."
For residents in the area that do not have close family or friends to watch over their home, there is a service to call. Wheeler said to call your local law enforcement base and request a vacation watch to have law enforcement check on your home daily.
If any Cole County residents see anything suspicious that is not an immediate emergency, they should call 573-634-6400. For tips on a robbery or break-in, Wheeler said to call Crime Stoppers 573-659-TIPS. If it is an immediate emergency, call 9-1-1.