When you are away on vacation, do you worry about your home?  Although Jefferson Township is a relatively safe community, it most certainly has its share of crime. With summer vacations coming up for many township residents, it’s good to know that one of the many services offered by the Jefferson Township Police Department’s Services Bureau is the Vacant Home Program.

Burglary is defined by the law as the unlawful entry to a structure to commit theft or a felony.  In order for a burglary to take place, a victim does not have to be present.  Obviously, your home could be a target if no one is there even for an hour but much more likely if you’re away for an extended period of time especially if there is no sign of activity, newspapers are piling up in the driveway, delivered packages sit on the doorstep, mail is overflowing from a mailbox, and no lights of any kind can be seen at any time.

If you plan on taking a vacation and would like your house watched by the police department while you are away, you can simply fill out the JTPD’s Vacant Home Check Program form found on the township’s website at http://www.jeffersonpolice.com/documents/Vacant%20Home%20Check%20form.pdf Complete it on a computer and print it out, or you can print it out and complete it by hand. When you’re done and you sign it, either bring it to the JTPD at 1033 Weldon Road, Oak Ridge, email it to jkratzel@jeffersonpolice.com,  or fax the form to police headquarters at 973-697-8702. Enjoy your trip with a little more peace of mind, and when you return, notify the police department you’re back home.

The Jefferson Township Police Department offers the following checklist to better protect your home from unwanted visitors when you’re away–

      1. Let trusted neighbors know you will be away. If you would like the Jefferson Township Police to check your home, fill out a Vacant Home Check form
      2. Make your home look as lived-in as possible while you’re away.
      3. Never leave your house key hidden outside your home.
      4. Stop all deliveries or arrange for a neighbor to pick up your mail, newspapers, and packages.
      5. Arrange for someone to mow your lawn, rake leaves, plow your driveway, and otherwise maintain your outdoor area to give your home a lived-in look.
      6. Turn down the ringer on the telephone. An unanswered telephone is a dead give-away that no one is home.
      7. Don’t announce your absence on an answering machine message.
      8. Leave your blinds, shades and curtains in a normal position. Don’t close them unless that is what you do when you are home.
      9. If you leave a car home, park it as you normally would.
      10. Be sure to close and lock the windows, doors, garage, and any sheds, barns, attic entrances, gates, etc.
      11. Engrave all your valuables with your driver’s license number. If possible, videotape the contents of your home and be sure to keep the video and the list of valuables in a safe deposit box.
      12. Set lights on timers to mimic your evening activity (i.e., Living Room/Family Room lights to go on at dark and off when you are headed to bed with a bedroom light to go on after the Living/Family Room lights go off

I’m adding a few myself –

  • Don’t post that you’re leaving on vacation or photos of you on vacation on Facebook and other social media sites. You might as well just leave the front door open with a welcome sign as you’re inviting in an unwanted visitor who knows you’re gone!
  • Contact your newspaper carrier to put a hold on your deliveries indicating a start date and an end date as to when delivery should begin again.
  • Contact your local post office and request that your mail be held while you’re away. No mail deliveries will be made until the date you request mail delivery to begin again and all your accumulated mail will be delivered.  Or you can request that the post office hold all your mail at their office for you to pick up when you return. You can do this online at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/

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Carol was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Jefferson Township with her husband in 1976. She initially joined the Garden Club of Milton, eventually serving as President. She was a co-founder of the ABC Mothers Group, active in the local PTAs, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts. She worked for AIM Newspapers as a reporter and eventually became its Editor. Currently, she is President of the Jefferson Arts Committee and the Recreation Program Coordinator in the Jefferson Township Recreation Department. She can be reached at carol.punturieri@thejeffersonchronicle.com.

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