(SAVANNAH) As mass evacuations are set to begin in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, police urge people not to consider riding out Hurricane Irma to protect their property from thieves. Savannah Chatham Metro Police Crime Prevention Officer, APO Sharif Lockett says police officers will protect and serve as they weather the storm. “We will be on the lookout for suspicious individuals and suspicious vehicles that are roaming neighborhoods that appear to be out of place and things of that nature. We will be stopping individuals in order to determine what their actions are, what they’re doing in various areas.” Lockett said.
There are things people can do to reduce the risk of being victimized while they’re away from their homes due to the approaching hurricane. “Please do not post anything on social media that saying that you are a back you waiting your residence. This could be an advertisement that your home will be empty. In addition to that, after the hurricane, do not post your address for friends to check your residence. Because this is public information that can be viewed by anybody and it would be a deterrent. If someone was going to break in your residence they would have your address and things of that nature and that something we definitely don’t want.” said Lockett.
When leaving your home, Lockett recommends double-checking to ensure all access points are secure. “Make sure all of the windows and doors are locked. If you have a second story or a garage or basement, these are sometimes doors and windows that are often forgotten about so please double check those as well.” Lockett said. WSAV Crime Expert, Gerry Long is urging anyone who thinks they’ll ride out the storm to personally protect their property from thieves to consider the bigger picture. “Your life is more important than things. People can certainly board up their homes, they can put sandbags around them, too you know, minimize the damage to the property, but you can’t replace your lives.” Long said. She and Lockett agree on the list of things people should take with them in the evacuation. Irreplaceable items like photographs tops the list. They also say heirloom jewelry should be taken as well. They also urge gun owners not to leave firearms behind.