Choosing the perfect travel destination is only one step in preparing for summer vacation. Following common sense crime prevention tips can go a long way in making sure your dream vacation doesn’t end abruptly when you return home.

“We typically see an increase in thefts when summertime arrives,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “That’s why we encourage everyone to take steps before they leave home to make sure they come back to all their belongings and a house that’s safe and sound.

“The top two months for vehicle thefts are July and August,” he said. “Nearly 45 percent of all vehicles stolen around the country are never recovered.”

When you leave cars at your home while away on a trip:

  • Take your key; don’t leave it in or on your vehicle.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Park in well-lit areas – in your garage or carport, if possible.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle.

“Radios and wheel covers aren’t the only vehicle parts thieves take,” Koon said. “They want anything they can sell quickly. Items such as engines, transmissions, air bags, radios, GPS units, phones/iPods, laptops and purses are prime targets.”

According to Koon, utility trailers are another item crooks will swoop in and steal while you’re on vacation.

“Utility trailers are easy to steal if they’re not secured,” Koon said. “At minimum, we advise locking the hitch coupler. That’s a deterrent that wards off would-be thieves. Storing your trailer in a shed or garage that locks is the best way to protect it.”

Koon said etching identifying numbers that you’ll always remember on a discreet part of your trailer is a safeguard to have in place in case it’s stolen.

“Let us know when you’ll be away from home this summer,” Koon said. “As part of Project Property Check, our deputies will come by and check your home every 24 hours.”

For more information on Project Property Check, call the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department at 803-785-8230.