As temperatures rise, crime rates follow suit - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

As temperatures rise, crime rates follow suit

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As summertime approaches, the increase of sunshine and tourists comes with an uptick in crime.

Myrtle Beach police warn some of the crime can be easily avoided if you're just a bit more vigilant, especially at the beach access parking lots.

When you're enjoying the beach, you typically take a lot of stuff with you from purses, to wallets, and smartphones. Police are seeing more people leaving these items out in plain sight in their cars as they're parked in the beach access points or along the street. This makes you an easy target for would-be crooks.

So the police department is encouraging you to make sure all personal items like iPads, iPods, or even cellphone chargers aren't visible. Keep them out of sight in the glove box or the trunk, or just take them with you.

Lt. Joey Crosby with Myrtle Beach Police says it's a crime of opportunity and warns it doesn't matter whether you have an in-state or out-of-state plate, you are a target if anything is in plain view. “Also, while you're on the beach, make sure if you take your keys and your wallet with you in a beach bag, make sure you have someone that's watching the beach bag,” says Crosby. “Because sometimes we do have people that take those bags off of the beach while you're down at the ocean playing. So make sure you leave someone at your towel or your beach chairs to monitor your stuff."

Also, police officers say to have any serial numbers or identification numbers written down. This way officers can help track down your stolen items. It's all about being aware, at all times. So even as you're walking from the beach to your car or just along the boulevard, remember to keep an eye on your belongings. Beach bags tend to be easy targets. And only bring what you really need to the beach in the first place.

And local law enforcement also warns drivers it's time to be extra vigilant when behind the wheel, because more motorcyclists are hitting the open road. Family members say 55-year-old Richard Mathews was riding his motorcycle home with friends on Highway 22 when, for some reason, he crossed the center line and hit a guardrail near Exit 319 on April 4. Mathews later died at the hospital.

Police officers and state troopers are urging everyone not just to pay attention, but motorcyclists also need to seriously consider wearing a helmet at all times. According to the most recent data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, there were 1,819 motorcycle crashes in 2010. Eighty-one of those bikers died that year, and 69 percent of those died because they were not wearing a helmet.

Wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement in South Carolina, as long as you're older than 21. But, if you are younger than 21 years old, it is in fact a requirement you wear a helmet. According to leaders with SCDPS, a fatal motorcycle crash often results from another vehicle pulling into the path of the motorcyclist, which is then often made worse by the motorcyclist's speed and failure to wear a helmet. One of the biggest things to remember is what could be a minor accident in a car can easily be a fatal accident on a motorcycle. That's why wearing a helmet and not being impaired by drugs or alcohol is imperative to your safety.

"When you're changing lanes, trying to make turns, whatever the case may be, please be very mindful that the motorcyclists are on the road and take extra precaution. And for the motorcyclists, we're asking please pay extra attention. Make sure you're aware of your surroundings, where the vehicles are around you. And pay extra attention while you're on the roadways,” says Crosby.

As part of the RIDE SMART program, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety offers motorcycle rider training classes in Horry and Florence counties. SCDPS will also set up tables at both bike rallies this summer to give out safety information.

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