Keep home safe while on vacation

Police department reaches out to community for help starting program
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Are you going on a last minute vacation before the summer ends and the kids go back to school? Law enforcement officials are reminding residents to secure their homes, and the Auburn Police Department is asking for community help in keeping neighborhoods safe. Officer Carlos Castaner, with the Auburn Police Department, said there are several things residents can do to help prevent crime at their homes while they are out of town. “The first thing is to not let anyone know you are gone,” Castaner said. Castaner said having a trustworthy neighbor park in the driveway, having the newspaper and mail picked up, having indoor house lights on timers so they come on randomly throughout the day and making sure doors and windows are secured are all good tips for vacationers. “Having someone you trust that has a key to the house so they can go in every once in awhile and make sure everything’s OK (is a good idea),” Castaner said. Castaner said it’s also a good idea not to post updates about vacations on social websites. “It’s not posting it on there, not letting anyone know outside your circle of friends, via telephone, that you are going to be out of town,” he said. Dena Erwin, spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, said burglaries are a regular occurrence, so it’s always important to keep homes and vehicles secured. “We’re having so many vehicle and more residential burglaries in the last year, so we are really trying to remind people to keep their vehicles locked, garage doors down, the back garage doors … you need to lock those doors,” Erwin said. Julie Shelp, owner of Renee Travel on Lincoln Way in Auburn, said her clients are usually concerned about who is being left behind in their homes when they go out of town. “I do know we have a few people with dogs or pets in their homes, and they have people come in and stay with them,” Shelp said. “That way they don’t even think about it.” Shelp, who lives in rural Grass Valley, said when it comes to securing your house, it’s all about common sense. “Have a checklist,” she said. Castaner said the police department is currently trying to restart its Neighborhood Watch program and is asking for help. “We want to get together with the community to help lower crime and theft in the city,” he said. “We can’t do that by ourselves. We need the help of the citizens to do that. It’s always served to be more beneficial. Citizens see a suspicious person or something happening and they are able to contact us. And we are able to prevent potential problems that way.” Castaner said right now the department is putting information together about the program and getting its volunteers involved to get information out to the community. “The idea is that it’s going to be a combination of volunteers and officers making the efforts to make a closer connection to the citizens,” he said. Castaner said an initial meeting with a neighborhood would take about an hour-and-a-half and department officials would talk about current crime trends in the area and how to establish the Neighborhood Watch program. Castaner said the department also wants residents to be aware of the influx of parolees into the city, which could also tie into the need of Neighborhood Watch groups. Although the department does not think all those on parole are going to commit crimes again, the county’s parole office and several local transitional homes bring them into the city, and possibly into contact with other citizens, Castaner said. “We are just saying they are here and people need to be aware that they are in town,” he said. Erwin said the unincorporated area of Auburn has Neighborhood Watch programs already in place, as well as free volunteer vacation checks of homes. Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ How can you start a Neighborhood Watch group? Those interested in starting up a Neighborhood Watch group in the city limits can call Officer Carlos Castaner at (530) 823-4237. ----------------------------------------------------- Securing your neighborhood and home outside the city Those interested in Neighborhood Watch in the unincorporated area of Auburn can call (530) 889-7800. For more information on the volunteer home vacation checks, call the Sheriff’s Office Loomis substation at (916) 652-2400.