By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Ohioans are ready shake off the winter doldrums and head south for spring break.

“We want our citizens to do their research on where they will stay and what they plan to do while on spring break or vacation,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.

“There are travel agencies, such as AAA and others out there, that can help you plan your trip,” said Lenhart. “You can also use the Internet to find out what’s going on in the community that you’re visiting.”

Lenhart said while researching the positive things going on in the area you’re planning to visit, you should also check on what type of crimes might be going on in the community.

“Everyplace has areas of crime,” said Lenhart. “You can Google the are to find out about the incidents or, if you have friends or family in the area, ask them what’s going on. You can also ask the security officers at the hotel or motel you’re staying about what’s going on in the neighborhood.

“I was recently at a hotel that had parking lot signage that said the hotel was not responsible for lost or stolen items,” said Lenhart. “There must have been a reason for the signage.”

Lenhart said before staying at a hotel/motel, make a phone call and ask the manager what type of security the establishment has, are there surveillance cameras and is the parking lot well lit.

Lenhart said with today’s society, it’s better to be a little paranoid and have a safe, fun-filled vacation than to have something tragic happen because safety precautions were not taken.

“When you register at your hotel, only use your initials especially if you’re traveling along,” said Lenhart. “if you are going to meet someone, met them in the lobby instead of your room.”

Lenhart also had some tips on which floor you should stay on in the hotel.

“Don’t stay on the first floor because the rooms are easy to break into,” said Lenhart. “You should stay on the second through sixth floors. And don’t go past the sixth floor because more ladder trucks from a fire department can’t reach higher the sixth floor.”

Lenhart said when checking into the hotel, have the person registering you write down your room number on a piece of paper “as you never know who is listening to the conversation.”

“Always stay with your luggage and always lock it,” said Lenhart.”Once you’ve checked in — and you’re planning on doing some sightseeing — take a business card from the front desk. That way you’ll have the hotel’s address in case you need it. Also I always program my phone with my room number.”

Once you unlock the door of your room, you should always inspect it, said Lenhart.

“Check the doors and windows to make sure they all have functional locks,” said Lenhart. “Make sure the room is clean. And rollback the sheets to check for bedbugs.”

Lenhart said you should keep the door locked when you are in the room. Also use the chain lock or deadbolt lock.

“Use the do not disturb sign even if your in the room or gone,” said Lenhart. “That way it looks like someone is in the room at all times. I also leave the TV on when I leave the room. I put it on a news channel so there’s a number of voices talking.”

Lenhart said you should never open the door to strangers. If someone knocks on the door, ask them who they are and why they’re bothering you. If you do open the door, keep the chain on so the person cannot enter the room.

“When you enter and leave the hotel, always use the main entrance,” said Lenhart. “There will always be a person there, cutting down on the chance of something happening.

“You should also travel in numbers,” he said.

When parking your vehicle, make sure it’s parked in a well lit area. And don’t leave items in the vehicle where people can see them. If you’ve been shopping, put the items in the trunk. If there’s no trunk, then cover the items up in the vehicle.

“Don’t leave cash, credit cards or jewelry in your room,” said Lenhart. “Use the hotel safe to store the items.

“But I have a question for the readers … If you’re on vacation, why do you have your nice jewelry with you? Why not leave it at home?” asked Lenhart.

If you’re a germophobic, wipe off the TV remote before using it. Or put it in a plastic bag to keep the germs off your hands.

“If you’re out and about, be aware of your surroundings,” said Lenhart. “Keep alert to something that could cause damages to your family.

:If your sixth sense is telling you something doesn’t feel right, take another look around.” said Lenhart. “Something probably isn’t right with your surroundings.”

Lenhart recommends everyone to take simple safety precautions while on vacation so “you have a terrific spring break.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.