Away for the holidays? Thieves are among the first to know
With the holidays now in full swing, there are some in town who look forward to your vacation away from home.
They’re not your friends and colleagues who think you’re owed some holiday cheer and time away for a job well done. No, they’re the thieves who stalk homes, mailboxes and sheds, looking to take things from you when you’re not looking.
And they’re out there, authorities warn.
“We’ve caught and arrested burglars who’ve told our deputies exactly what they’ve looked for. They look for homes with their walkways unclear” of snow, said Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Mezzetta.
Thieves also look for cluttered mailboxes, newspapers piled on driveways and homes darkened in the evening.
The good news is that Douglas and El Dorado counties and South Lake Tahoe police offer some forms of home checks, if requested, while you’re on vacation.
By no means a home-security replacement, the city’s police department will agree to do extra patrols around your home if you’re a permanent resident who happens to be on vacation.
“This is not extra security or guaranteed security, but we do make a notation, and we will run by your home when we have the time,” said Lt. Marty Hale of the South Lake Tahoe police department.
Requests made by those outside the city limits in El Dorado County will be assigned officers from the Sheriff’s Team of Active Retirees unit, which will, on a daily and sometimes twice-daily basis, check on your home if you’re on vacation for up to two weeks.
These officers will walk the perimeter of the home to see that everything is secured, said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell. The officers look for unusual foot traffic around homes as well as jimmied doorways and windows. If something does appear to be unusual, the STAR officers will call for a deputy.
But the best course of plan for vacation vigilance is to communicate with your neighbors surrounding your home, Lovell added.
“A neighborhood with neighbors who will watch your home are the best eyes and ears. They’ll be able to see and hear things that could go on. Of course, we don’t want them to be the hands and feet, that’s our job, but they’re important. If you neighbor sees something unusual, they’ll call 911,” Lovell said.
For up to two weeks, volunteers from Douglas County’s Volunteer Citizen Patrol will make daily or near-daily routine checks of your property at no charge.
“If the volunteers spot something suspicious, they will call for a uniformed officer to come check it out,” Mezzetta said.
The service is available to permanent, full-time residents only and not intended for people who live at the home part-time.
For those second-home owners, Mezzetta recommends security-alarm systems.