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Frequently Asked Questions - Crime Prevention 
 

1. How do I find out if there is a sexual predator in my area?
2. When I am on vacation, could someone come by my house and check on it?
3. If I call to report suspicious activity, can I remain anonymous?
4. If I see a crime in progress what should I do?
5. When should I call 911?
6. How do I start a Neighborhood Watch in my neighborhood?
7. Does Neighborhood Watch really work?
8. What is a C.A.T. decal and where can I get one for my car?
9. If my sixteen year old grandson is visiting and has my car out after 1:00 a.m., and I have a C.A.T.
10. What is Citizens Assisted Patrol (C.A.P.)?
11. When can my child face forward in his/her car seat?
12. I was the victim of a crime. How do I determine the latest status of my case?
13. How can I obtain a copy of my case report?
14. If we are a one car family with two drivers, should we leave the vehicle registration form in the car?
15. What is the best way to identify items in my home?
16. Do you have someone who can come and check my door and window locks?
17. Can traffic laws be enforced on private streets?
18. What is the difference between the Sheriff’s office and a Police Department?
19. Are Florida State Troopers the same as the State Police?
20. Should I prepare for a hurricane?

 
Answers
 
1. How do I find out if there is a sexual predator in my area?
Answer: Visit the Sheriff’s Office website at www.polksheriff.org and click the link to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. From that site you may enter your address and determine if there are any known sexual predators in your neighborhood.


2. When I am on vacation, could someone come by my house and check on it?
Answer: Yes. Call the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number at 863-298-6200 and ask the Sheriff’s Office member to fill out a patrol request for your home.
 

3. If I call to report suspicious activity, can I remain anonymous?
Answer: When you call the non-emergency number, (863-298-6200), your personal information does not appear on the phone line. Give the information to the operator, before hanging up; answer any questions the operator may have. There is also an anonymous tips line you may call at 1-800-226 TIPS (8477).
 

4. If I see a crime in progress what should I do?
Answer: Call 911. DO NOT place yourself at risk. Observe and record as much information about people or vehicles as you can.

5. When should I call 911?
Answer: 911 is an emergency line which should only be used in life-threatening or urgent situations that require the immediate response of law enforcement, medical, or fire personnel.

6. How do I start a Neighborhood Watch in my neighborhood?
Answer: Contact the Crime Prevention Unit at 863-298-6677. Residents will receive two Neighborhood Watch Presentations. During each of the presentation, Crime Prevention Specialist will provide visual aids and handout materials that may enhance the participant’s ability to utilize crime prevention techniques.

7. Does Neighborhood Watch really work?
Answer: Yes. Neighborhood Watch is a proven effective program made successful by the participants. By reporting suspicious activity to the Sheriff’s Office and working together you can make your neighborhood a safer place to live.

8. What is a C.A.T. decal and where can I get one for my car?
Answer: Combat Auto Theft (C.A.T.) is a state wide program designed to fight the problem of auto theft. Operation C.A.T. is a volunteer decal program which entails a more aggressive law enforcement response to aurto theft by authorizing investigative stops of participating vehicles. Automobile owners may register their vehicles at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or at any Operation C.A.T. program presented by the Crime Prevention Unit, or at the Lakeland Branch of AAA Auto Club South.

9. If my sixteen year old grandson is visiting and has my car out after 1:00 a.m., and I have a C.A.T. sticker on it, what do I need to do so he is not stopped and arrested?
Answer: You will need to give your grandson a letter giving him permission to drive your vehicle. Include your name, address, and phone number should a law enforcement agency need to contact you.

10. What is Citizens Assisted Patrol (C.A.P.)?
A. Citizen patrols are volunteers who walk or drive an area on regular patrol to report incidents and problems to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and provide a visible presence that deters criminal activity.

11. When can my child face forward in his/her car seat?
Answer: When the child reaches the maximum weight of the car seat; roughly 30-45 pounds. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain rear facing until 2 years of age.)

12. I was the victim of a crime. How do I determine the latest status of my case?
A. During the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, you may contact the district office where the incident occurred or was reported. Call the Deputy whose name is on the card given to you at the time of your report, or the detective to whom the case was assigned if one has contacted you.

13. How can I obtain a copy of my case report?
Answer: You may obtain a copy by contacting the Sheriff’s Office Records Section at 863-298-6259.

14. If we are a one car family with two drivers, should we leave the vehicle registration form in the car?
Answer: No. The primary driver should have the original and the secondary driver may carry a copy. This should be kept with your insurance information and driver’s license.

15. What is the best way to identify items in my home?
Answer: Personal property may be marked with a unique number, such as your driver’s license number, with an electric engraver. This number will allow law enforcement to more easily identify your property in case of theft.

16. Do you have someone who can come and check my door and window locks?
Answer: Yes. The Crime Prevention Unit offers Home Security Surveys free of charge. Recommendations are given for improved security and safety procedures.

17. Can traffic laws be enforced on private streets?
Answer: No. Law Enforcement cannot enforce traffic laws such as speeding and stopping at stop signs on private streets; however, State Statute 316.006 3b explains ... “if the county and party or parties owning and controlling such road or roads provide, by written agreement approved by the governing body of the county, for county traffic control jurisdiction over the road or roads encompassed by such agreement.”

18. What is the difference between the Sheriff’s office and a Police Department?
Answer: The Police Department enforces laws within its cities boundaries. The Sheriff’s Office enforces laws outside all city boundaries; however, the Sheriff’s Office can go inside the city limits to enforce the law. The Sheriff’s Office also served judicial papers such as injunction papers, notices to appear in court, warrants, evictions, etc. Deputy Sheriff’s have the authority to arrest someone with a warrant and a Police Officer does not. A Police Officer may detain someone with a warrant for their arrest, but only a Deputy Sheriff has the arresting power of a warrant.

19. Are Florida State Troopers the same as the State Police?
Answer: No. The state of Florida does not have a State Police. The Florida State Troopers enforce all traffic laws on Florida highways and work traffic accidents.

20. Should I prepare for a hurricane?
Answer: Yes! In the year 2004 three hurricanes passed through Polk County within six weeks of each other. You should always prepare a hurricane kit with at least three days of supplies at the beginning of hurricane season. Crime Prevention Specialists can advise what types of items to place in your hurricane preparedness kit. For more information about hurricane preparedness call the Crime Prevention Unit at 863-298-6677.