The Crime Prevention Unit is tasked with educating the public on the latest ways to avoid becoming a victim of crime. The unit coordinates with community leaders, stakeholders, and neighborhood watch groups throughout the county to deliver informative presentations. The topics of presentation range from Active Shooter Survival, Human Trafficking, Current Frauds and Scams, among other requested topics. In addition to presentations, the crime prevention unit conducts security assessment surveys using the CPTED principles (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design). Business owners and residents can request business or residential surveys. The survey helps identify areas of the property that may need improvement to lessen property and/or person crimes.
We are committed to our residents and will continually strive to work harmoniously and professionally within our communities and our schools. We believe in promoting a keen awareness to crime and the dangers associated with this activity, through innovative prevention education, mentoring, intervention and interaction, in order to keep our residents and our children safe and crime free.
Contact the Crime Prevention Unit at (863) 402-7453 or via email.
Crime Prevention Programs
Active Shooter Survival
Unfortunately due to the climate of today’s society, Active Shooter Survival is the most requested presentation in Highlands County. The Active Shooter Survival and Situational Awareness Presentation is approximately one hour. This PowerPoint presentation provides relevant statistical data on active shooters from years past to present date. Additionally, participants learn the FBI methodology of Run, Fight, Hide, to mentally prepare you if you find yourself in an active shooter situation. During the instruction, practical and tactical forms of Cover vs. Concealment are discussed as well as situational awareness. At the conclusion, all participants are provided with an informational pamphlet regarding the material learned throughout the presentation.
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.
Bank Robbery Prevention & Awareness
The Bank Robbery Prevention is a presentation specific to our community. The presentation is roughly 45 minutes and discusses key components such as prevention techniques, procedures during a bank robbery, and post-robbery procedures and preservation.
Frauds & Scams
This presentation goes over the most current frauds and scams. Scams can occur a number of different ways from in person, online, to over the phone; it is important to understand how to identify the elements of a scam to prevent becoming a victim. In addition to the presentation, pamphlets are provided with additional resources and phone number to contact if you think you may have compromised your identity.
Human Trafficking Awareness
Due to the growing concerns of human trafficking across the country and Florida ranked third in the nation, the Highlands County Sheriff’ Office started an initiative to bring awareness to this national issue. This two hour PowerPoint presentation discusses all the facets of human trafficking; from the myths vs. facts of human trafficking, recruitment methods of human traffickers, elements of human trafficking per Florida State Statute, and the different types of human trafficking. Participants will learn different the red flag indicators of human trafficking and know what resources are available if they identify a human trafficking victim. Participants are provided with informational pamphlets regarding the material encompassed in the presentation. The pamphlet also includes resources and contact information to report human trafficking.
In an effort to keep pharmaceutical controlled substances out of the wrong hands, the sheriff’s office has a permanent drop box at the sheriff’s office headquarters. You can drop off any prescriptions in the drop box to properly dispose of medications that is not only safe for the community, but the environment too.
Business and Residential Security Programs: Security Assessment Surveys for residential and commercial properties are available by appointment. A specially trained Crime Prevention Practitioner will come to your home or business and complete a survey of the property. You will receive an evaluation and practical recommendations to enhance the security of your property and surrounding area.
Neighborhood Crime Watch
In Highlands County, we have over 130 designated communities which have some form of a digital neighborhood watch (Nextdoor App) or live neighborhood watch program. Neighborhood Crime Watch is a great way for communities to take an active park in making their neighborhood a safer place to live.
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.
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 will 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.