The Crime Prevention Unit is tasked with educating the public on the latest ways to avoid becoming victims of crime. The unit coordinates with Neighborhood Watch groups throughout the county and also deliver presentations to community groups about how to avoid becoming victims of scams and other crimes. They also deliver active shooter presentations and do security surveys at local businesses to identify areas that need improvement.
The Crime Prevention Unit can be contacted at either 863-402-7369 or 863-402-7453 or via email.
Seniors vs. Crime
The Highlands County Sheriff's Office is home to a Seniors vs. Crime Project Office. A project of the Attorney General's Office, Seniors vs. Crime is not just for seniors. It is for anyone who is dealing with an issue that is civil, rather than criminal, in nature. These types of cases include issues with contractors and other construction/home repair disputes and other issues with contract disputes. The volunteer "Senior Sleuths" help citizens resolve these issues if they are civil in nature, and if it is discovered there was a crime, the issue is referred to law enforcement.
A key part of the program is that the information about the case would be entered into a statewide database that is monitored by the Attorney General’s office. With 44 Seniors vs. Crime offices around the state it would raise a red flag is the same contractor has been doing the same kind of thing in multiple locations. In that case, the AG investigators will have the opportunity to begin a statewide criminal investigation.
The Seniors vs. Crime Project Office is open at HCSO headquarters at 400 S. Eucalyptus St. in Sebring every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To file a complaint, anyone can come in during those hours, or call 863-402-7849. Another method would be to go to SeniorsVsCrime.com and file a complaint online. All the work will be done at the HCSO building. The Sleuths are not allowed to go out in the field, so you have to come to them. They also can’t take third-party complaints.
Other Crime Prevention Programs
This program utilizes a sign similar to that of a Neighborhood Watch sign except it states No Trespassing by order of the Highlands County Sheriff's Office and also incorporates a four digit identification number on it. With placement of the sign, the grove or ranch owner makes the Sheriff's Office an agent of the property thus giving Deputies approval to make immediate trespass arrest.
The Bank Watch Program is set up similar to Neighborhood Watch in that it employs a telephone tree to disseminate information quickly in case of robbery, fraud, counterfeits or other similar incidents. Currently all banks in the county are participating in this program.
Is based on the same principles as Neighborhood Watch and involves business owners taking an active role in making their community a safer place to work. Business Watch can be organized by geographical area or by business type.
- Business and Residential Security Programs: Security Surveys for residential and commercial properties are available by appointment. A specially trained Crime Prevention Specialist can come to your home or business and complete a simple form provided by the Florida Office of the Attorney General. You will receive an evaluation and practical recommendations to improve the security of your property.
- Preventing Elder Financial Exploitation: Focused on financial issues commonly occurring in banks and saving/loan situations.
- Golf Course Security: A business security survey customized for golf courses with special attention to vandalism prevention.
- Robbery Prevention: Primarily designed for banks and other businesses with high volumes of cash or other valuables, this program deals with what to do in case of a robbery and gives suggestions for prevention.
- Workplace Safety: This program addresses creating a safe environment for workers as well as developing an emergency response plan.
- Golf Watch: Another program styled after Neighborhood Watch, this network is made up of all golf courses in Highlands County and is primarily concerned with burglary and vandalism. It employs a telephone tree that originates from the Sheriff's Office and keeps all courses in the county informed of stolen merchandise, golf cart thefts, vandalism issues or fraud in the golf industry.
The Neighborhood Watch Program is a national program which involves communities taking an active part in making their neighborhood a safer place to live. The Watch Groups cover most of the county from Avon Park Lakes to Venus.
- Establishing a Neighborhood Watch: This is the first step for homeowners associations and similar organizations interested in promoting a safer community in which to live through the Neighborhood Watch program.
- Neighborhood Watch Patrol: This is an extension of the Neighborhood Watch program in which members patrol their community at designated times in specially marked golf carts, cars or personal vehicles.
- Residential Security Surveys: A member of the Crime Prevention Unit will come to your residence and make suggestions on how you can enhance the security of your residence and surrounding area.
- Operation I.D.: Is the engraving of valuables with your Florida driver's license number to deter burglars and also to prove ownership should the article be stolen and recovered by Law Enforcement
This program consists of a three way effort among the Sheriff's Office, local Chiefs of Police and AARP or older/retired leadership in the area in reducing criminal victimization of older citizens and enhances needed services to this population. This program is governed by a panel of civilian volunteers known as the S.A.L.T Council (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) and coordinated through a liaison at the Sheriff's Office. Crimes Against Seniors is a summary of common crimes in the senior population such as telemarketing and Medicare frauds.
- Safe Return: This effort is coordinated out of the local Alzheimer's chapter and is a program designed to provide identification information for those citizens afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.
- Is Your Number Up?: The S.A.L.T. Council supplies materials and labor needed to replace damaged or install new house numbers on residences of elderly, frail or ill seniors. This project is undertaken with the goal of better quality of life for our senior and frail neighbors.
Contact us for more information and/or to participate in a program.