Though serious crime is not common in Columbia County during Masters Week, residents should keep up their guard to protect themselves in public and take precautions to protect their property should they leave for vacation, police say.
"Even though mayhem might be at a minimum during the tournament, simple common sense precautions can help prevent trouble," Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said. "When you leave your home, make certain your home is secured.
Morris said vehicles, even if left in front of a home, should be locked when not occupied.
With spring break and Masters Week traditionally aligned, many families choose to take vacations, and some take the opportunity to rent out their homes to golf spectators.
Generally, property crimes in the county are below average Masters Week, Morris said, but there are steps that police say homeowners should take to protect their property from criminal damage and even their identities from being used fraudulently.
The sheriff's office offers concentrated patrols through their Vacation House Watch Program. Deputies physically check homes for signs of disturbance and can notify a homeowner or a person designated by the homeowner if an incident occurs while they are away.
Homeowners also can take other measures to make sure their property is safe.
"Rent your home through a reputable rental agency," Morris said. "... If possible, identify who will be renting your home and develop a relationship."
Homeowners should secure all personal documents and valuables such as jewelry, cash, electronics or collectibles and can have their mail delivery stopped.
Morris said it's a good idea to review homeowner's insurance information and to "consider contacting your insurance agent to determine if damages or thefts are covered."
Finally, Morris said, homeowners should ask neighbors to watch their home and report suspicious activity.
"With thousands of visitors in town during Masters Week, you might expect our criminal element to take advantage of them," Morris said. "However, most people seem to be on their best behavior during the tournament week. Knock on wood, it is usually a very quiet week for us."
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