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OCSO Issues Tips for 2021 Thanksgiving Travel, Shopping and Property Protection

(Walhalla, SC)------------------With the Thanksgiving Day Holiday weekend upcoming in just a couple of days, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is providing today some travel and safety tips to our citizens and visitors.

According to a press release from AAA Carolinas, the travel organization is predicting that nearly 753,000 South Carolinians will be traveling for Thanksgiving. The release says that is a 13% increase from travel numbers during the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday period.

“Our normal and routine law enforcement operations always go on as normal during any holiday time period,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “Our Dispatch will be staffed as normal and will be available to handle calls for service, so if you have an emergency or need law enforcement to respond to where you are, deputies will be ready to respond to those requests.”

The South Carolina Department of Transportation has announced that there will be restrictions on lane closures on interstate highway for non-emergency highway work from Noon, Wednesday, November 24th through 6am, Monday, November 29th.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is providing these travel tips if you are planning to travel to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving:

· Plan your trip ahead of time in terms of the route you will be taking to reach your destination. Make sure that your family and friends are aware of the route you will be traveling. Let them know when you are leaving and when you anticipate arriving.

· Make sure your vehicle is travel ready by checking the air pressure in your tires, plus, check your vehicles hoses, belts, brakes, fluids and windshield wipers.

· Make sure to have a phone charger in your vehicle so you can keep your cell phone battery charged.

· In case you become stranded or you are delayed in traffic, have extra clothes, blankets, food and water in your vehicle.

· Be patient and courteous as your travel for the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and expect heavy traffic volumes at times during the weekend. Some of the busiest travel times during the holiday weekend will be on Wednesday, November 24th from Noon to 7pm and from Noon to 7pm on Sunday, November 28th.

· Cpl. Irvin Reyes, who is the Traffic Enforcement Officer for the Sheriff’s Office, reminds those who are driving for Thanksgiving to never drive distracted, which includes putting away your cell phone when you are driving. Also, don’t drink and drive and always have a designated driver or consider using a taxi or a ride along service. Drivers need to obey the speed limit and be aware of changing road conditions and lane shifts, even with many road construction projects being suspended for the holiday weekend.

· Cpl. Reyes also reminds all occupants of motor vehicles to wear a seat belt.

· Also, with continuing cases of COVID-19, travelers may also want to consider carrying masks, sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in their vehicles if they plan to make stops as they travel.

In regards to shopping during this weekend, Sheriff Crenshaw is recommending that you always have a personal safety plan in place and to consider these safety tips while you shop:

-Don't buy more than you can carry. Bring along a friend to help, or ask an employee or another shopper for assistance when carrying packages to your car.

-Shop with only one credit card. It simplifies canceling purchases. Credit cards are considered generally safer than debit cards. Also to prevent fraud while shopping online, consider using only one credit card as well. When you use your credit card, make sure you get it back after using it to pay for your purchase.

You may want to consider removing items from your wallet that you will not need for your shopping trip. Those items include Social Security Cards, Debit and Credit Cards that you will not use, medical insurance, and other ID cards other than your driver’s license or state issued ID card. Also, don’t carry more checks than you need if you plan to pay with this mode of payment. -Never leave your purse, wallet or phone unattended. Deter pickpockets by holding these items close to your person.

- Have your keys in hand when approaching your car, and remember to check the backseat before getting in. -Have a plan for meeting at a pre-designated area in case you become separated from your children. -Put purchases and all valuables in the trunk if making multiple stops or if you are traveling.

-Watch your speed when you drive in the parking lots of business, watch out for stop signs and pedestrian crossing areas, especially in areas where pedestrians have the right of way. Don’t park in handicap spots. Once again, be mindful of pedestrians, especially children.

-In regards to a personal safety plan, be familiar with your surrounding at all times and know where the exits are located in case you need to find them in a quick manner. If you see something suspicious, such as an unattended bag or package, notify a store employee and contact your local law enforcement agency immediately!

Sheriff Crenshaw is also offering the following safety tips to protect your homes and property if you plan to be away for Thanksgiving:

Make sure your burglar alarm system is activated before leaving and putting signs and window decals of an alarm system on your windows is a good idea. Many alarm companies have aps and information on their websites that allow those who are away to monitor their alarm systems.

Make sure your exterior motion lights are working, especially at the corners of a residence. It might be a good idea to install motion lights if you have not already done so. Also, you may want to place timers inside your home to activate lights, television sets and radios at various times during the day. You may want to leave a TV or radio on at all times and put radios on all talk stations. Also, consider installing game cameras on your property or one of the many camera systems that are activated when someone rings your doorbell that sends a message to your phone so you can view who has rang the doorbell, whereupon you can speak with them.

Make sure all your doors and windows are locked and having dead bolt locks on all exterior doors is a good idea.

Place beware of dog signs on your property, even if you don’t own a dog.

Have someone pick up your mail or newspapers. You may want to a call your postal carrier and have the mail stopped for the time you are away. Call your newspaper provider or carrier to stop newspaper delivery while you are away too. Also, do not accept any delivery packages from shipping companies while you are away, unless you can have them shipped to a friend or family members address that are staying home for the holiday.

Don’t post on social media sites that you are gone and don’t post pictures of your trip on social media sites until after you return home.

Don’t record that you are out of town or on vacation on your answering machine.

Have a friend, family member, or neighbor check up on your home while you are away, or ask someone to house sit for you. If you see something that looks suspicious around your neighbor’s home or property, contact law enforcement immediately. Always remember: If you see something, say something!

Do not place presents or expensive items, such as jewelry or electronics, in plain sight in your homes that are visible through windows. Lock presents and expensive items in a room in your house that has a door lock on it.

You may also want to consider calling the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency if you live inside the city limits of a municipality to check on the possibility and availability of extra patrols in your neighborhood while you are away. One bit of information you can pass along to law enforcement would be what vehicles should be on your property.

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