Richmond police offer vacation home watch program

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many people will be heading out of town for a vacation this summer. The problem is, crooks know it. Police say summer is when criminals target neighborhoods. But you can protect yourself.

The Fan District is one of the areas that saw more than two dozen burglaries during the summer last year.  All it takes is a phone call or a visit to the Richmond Police Department to get an officer to check on your home several times a day, and it won't cost you a dime.

It's one of the last walks in the Fan for this family before heading out of town for the Memorial Day Weekend. And for the first time, mother Jennifer Woody is going to call the Richmond Police Department to make sure her home doesn't become a target for a crook.

"It gives you a lot of comfort. It's nice to know they are going to be around," Woody said.

She's talking about the vacation home check. Police will check on your home three times a day to make sure everything is safe. It's a program that's been going on for years, but it's popularity keeps growing.

In fact, Sgt. Carol Adams says it's helped prevent burglaries, too.

"It creates visibility for the neighborhood because the police are riding by so that's a deterrent within itself," Adams said.

We looked into the number of burglaries in Richmond during the summer of 2010. The numbers spike in June, July and August -- prime vacation time.

And it's also prime time when police get more reports of people casing your neighborhood, looking for a target.

Exactly what Jennifer sees in her neighborhood.

"You get a little suspicious when you see a car that's parked for a couple of days that you haven't seen," Woody said.

"People are watching all the time and if you see a van, working van, even if it has markings on the sides, if it seems out of place, call the police," Adams said.

Simple things to do. That can save you a big headache when you're trying to escape it all.

Police also want you to tell your alarm company if you'll be away.

To get involved in the vacation home check, you need to give police your name address and contact info.

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