Local Law Enforcement Helping Snowbirds, Vacationers Watch Over Their Homes

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WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa — It’s that time of year when snowbirds are heading to their winter destinations to escape the colder weather and many families are planning a spring break getaway. When it comes to leaving your home unattended for days in a row, local law enforcement is reminding you they are here to help.

Windsor Heights Police Capt. Derek Meyer said after almost two decades of offering their vacation watch program, they still continue to have residents request for it. Sometimes they are watching over two dozen homes at a time, despite the increases in technology like security cameras or other smart home devices.

Windsor Heights’ Vacation Watch program is fairly simple. Residents just need to fill out a request form online or at the station. Police, time and manpower permitting, will visually check on their home multiple times a day.

Meyer said things like security cameras definitely help, but getting someone like a neighbor, family member or law enforcement officer to keep an eye out as well is always best.

“We’re already out in the streets and out in the community,” Meyer said. “The difference with this house watch program is that a resident or citizen has given attention to their home in a sense that they are gone and they are on an extended vacation. It just helps us help them in order to see if something is out of place based on what they told us.”

Windsor Heights is one of many towns that have a program like this in Iowa. In the metro, it’s in many suburbs including Pleasant Hill and Johnston.

Meyer said there are other things homeowners can do to help make sure their homes are safe while they are away, beyond this Vacation Watch program.

“Lighting is always a big deal on your home. Just making sure that it’s lit up so that your environment is seen, locking your doors and your windows, just checking those. Those are always good ideas,” Meyer said.

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