COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Along with the coming of the holiday season comes a peak in crime rates, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff's Lieutenant Rafael Gonzales says the days surrounding Thanksgiving are some of the most traveled days of the year, and criminals sometimes prey on out-of-town travelers as easy targets.
He says if you do stop at a gas station or hotel while traveling, make sure it's in a safe location.
"Don't stop at any gas station to fuel up," says Gonzales. "Go to a location that's well lit, has good...video,...the establishment looks what we call clean, as far as no signage or people hanging around at that location."
Gonzales says sheriff's departments will often provide crime statistics for an area if you call and ask -- a good thing to do if you want to make sure the hotel you're staying at is in a safe location.