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The Villages
Friday, July 12, 2024

Thieves and burglars don’t take vacations from criminal activity

Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry
Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry

As our thoughts turn to relaxation and family fun this summer, keep in mind that thieves and burglars don’t take vacations from criminal activity. Stay vigilant about protecting yourself, your home, your belongings and your identity. Don’t let crime or weather ruin your summer fun.

The best advice is to stay alert. Be aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood. Never hesitate to report suspicious activity to law enforcement. If you notice activity at your neighbors’ house when you know they are away on vacation, call 911 immediately. Your tip might be the one that helps the Lady Lake Police Department catch a burglar. If you notice someone lurking around cars in a parking lot, phone in that tip. Teaming up and keeping the lines of communication open between law enforcement and observant residents is the best defense against criminals.

At home, lock your doors and don’t forget to arm your alarm systems if you have them. When you are out and about, lock your car doors and never keep valuables in plain view. It only takes a few seconds for a car burglar to grab your purse, wallet or cell phone from your car while you step away, even for a brief time.  Don’t make it easier for criminals by leaving a door unlocked.

Thinking of making some repairs to your home? Be wary of unlicensed contractors. They might take your money and run, do sub-standard work or have a criminal history. To make sure the workers in your home are licensed, visit the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website at www.myfloridalicense.com.
Be suspicious of anyone who shows up uninvited at your door. Sometimes, criminals knock first, and they can be very charming. They might ask for a drink, for directions, to use the phone or say they were sent to do work at your house. These are common tactics of scam artists and thieves. If you weren’t expecting them, don’t let them in.

Make your house look occupied when you are out. Leave a television or radio on, or set some lamps on timers. If you go away, stop your newspaper delivery and have someone collect your mail. You can even deter burglars with your landscaping. Plant some thorny bushes under windows that might make an illegal entry difficult. Trim back foliage that might block the view of your home from the street, and add some outdoor lighting so that criminals cannot operate unnoticed.

Every year drivers face a lot of rain, especially during the summer months. Driving in the rain can be a challenging task. It is important to understand basic state driving laws in relation to driving in inclement weather.

During inclement weather, drivers often fail to take the proper steps required by law. For example, under Florida law, drivers are required to turn on their headlights when it is raining. Turning on headlights increases visibility on the roads, which is a critical aspect of safe driving in the rain.

As a driver on the road, we may use our hazard lights for a number of reasons, yet only a few of those reasons are allowed under Florida law. Motorists often turn on their hazard lights when driving in the rain; but keep in mind that it is illegal to drive with your hazard lights on while driving in Florida.  In fact, hazard lights should only be turned on when a driver is pulled over to the side of the road or the vehicle has stalled. Essentially that means hazard lights are only permissible when your vehicle is stationary. In this context, hazard lights can be a valuable tool to alert other drivers of your presence as well as to signal that you may need help. The only time a moving vehicle can legally use hazard lights in Florida is when your vehicle is being driven in a funeral procession.

Using hazard lights while driving can greatly reduce visibility and mislead other drivers on the road into thinking your car is stopped or stalled when it is not. Hazard lights make it difficult for other drivers to assess whether a motorist is braking or using a turn signal.  The flashing hazard lights can be distracting and misleading in heavy traffic and inclement weather. Additionally, first responders often look for flashers to assess if a driver needs help. This type of confusion can lead to an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes on our roads.

During inclement weather, driving can be difficult for many reasons.  In most instances, you can continue to drive as long as you are cautious and careful.  If driving conditions on the road deteriorate to the point it becomes extremely hazardous, you should pull over and park until the weather conditions improve.

The men and women of the Lady Lake Police Department want you to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your belongings and your family, so you can relax and enjoy a fun and safe summer.

Chris McKinstry is chief of police in Lady Lake.

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