Livermore Police launch vacation house check program

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KTVU) - The Livermore Police Department has launched a vacation house check program designed to help residents make sure their homes are more secure while they're away.

Residents sign up by filing out a form on the department's website, listing the dates they'll be away and whether pet sitters, relatives or anyone else will have access to the house while they're away.

Police spokesman Allen McFarland said trained volunteers will check residents' homes as time and resources allow.

"They're going to look for things that shouldn't be there. So if you tell us in your report form there should be no vehicles in my driveway, and we get here and there's two, that would be a dead giveaway, let's look into this a little further. The minute they get any indication something is wrong, that's when they notify our dispatch," said McFarland.

The program kicked off late last week, and according to the department's crime prevention specialist, nearly 20 people have already signed up to request the free service.

According to McFarland, all volunteers have completed the citizen police academy, dozens of hours of additional training along with background checks.

Rich Spivey, a Livermore resident who recently retired, is one of the volunteers. While giving KTVU a demonstration of the vacation checks, he explained that he'll check the front yard and front of the home.

"We come up and check the front door and the windows, make sure nothing's ajar," said Spivey.

McFarland said volunteers don't check the back of the home, and won't pick up mail, newspapers or packages.

He said the vacation house checks aren't meant to replace other safety measures, including making sure newspapers and garbage bins aren't left sitting out, setting lights on timers to make it look like someone's there and asking your neighbors to keep an eye on your home.

"We want to be able to help you feel better about being gone," said McFarland. "Hopefully this will make you feel safer (and) a little bit more secure.

Livermore residents who plan to be away from seven to 30 days can request this service, free of charge.

The department says there's no guarantee that a vacation check will be completed, but volunteers will do them as time and resources allow.