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Police provide safety reminders ahead of Easter weekend

This weekend will be busy with Good Friday, Passover and Easter Sunday. However, police are warning people to not let their guard down.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s a big holiday weekend with Good Friday, Passover, and Easter. While people flock to their places of worship, there is a word of caution from police.

Watch your back because criminals might be watching you.

“Parking lots are vulnerable because they know people are inside,” said Community Education Officer Rick Hannah with the Columbus Division of Police.

Hannah helped CrimeTracker 10 look at common church offenses. They include car break-ins during mass times, disorderly conduct when collection trays come around and burglaries after hours.

“There’s more money during this weekend with collection baskets. And unfortunately, with that, it presents an opportunity for criminals to try to, to interfere with that,” Hannah added.

At the New Albany Church of the Resurrection, there are security cameras strategically placed inside and out.

“We developed the safety program and some protocols from the basic to the full-blown,” Steve Jewell told CrimeTracker 10’s Angela An.

Jewell oversees the church’s safety program which includes ushers who are trained to spot suspicious behavior and doors that will automatically lock.

“The big one we do is if you see something, say something, that's the key,” Jewell said.

There's one more piece of safety advice police said is critical to your safety — situational awareness. Keep in mind that when you walk into a place of worship for a late afternoon service, it might be dark when you walk out.

“Put your cell phones down.” Officer Hannah said. “Look around into the parking lot before you approach your car, strength in numbers, walk with a group of people to your vehicle or ask somebody in a church to escort you to your vehicle.”

“It’ll make you a less target for criminals to try to approach."

Many police agencies offer a special training called CRASE, which is an acronym for Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events. The motto they teach: avoid, deny defend.

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