By Jan Vejraska
Special to Independent Newsmedia
Each year, thousands of Sun City West residents leave the community to escape the summer heat.
Some go for weeks or months, while others will be gone half the year.
This annual exodus kick starts the Sun City West Sheriff’s Posse’s Vacation Watch program, which is a house check service provided to Sun City West residents to ensure their home are safe and secure while homeowners are away.
An initial house check is made within seven days after a resident leaves. This initial check is extremely important, since it is then that posse members find most problems, such as open or unlocked doors, unlatched windows and, sometimes, open garage doors. After the initial check, homes are checked on a routine, round-robin schedule.
Routinely, doors and windows are monitored to ensure they are still locked. Irrigation systems are checked for leakage or damaged bubblers. Other potential red flags include water pouring out from a leaking hot water heater. Following a monsoon storm, the posse will eyeball the roof to see if there is any damage as well as checking the entire property for downed trees, blown shingles or blown skylights.
Nothing signals an empty house more than stacked newspapers and fliers, so the posse collects and disposes of them to keep the property free from clutter. Any suspicious activity is noted and reported to the Sheriff’s Office.
Beginning this year, the posse has a new computerized system to facilitate scheduling the Vacation Watch homes to be checked. This system requires a resident to come into posse headquarters, 20450 Stardust Blvd., to complete a onetime- only signature card, which authorizes the posse to come onto their property to check the outside perimeter and all doors and windows. This signature card is similar to a card filed with a bank and will be permanently on file at the posse.
Once the signature card is on file, residents only need to inform theposse of any leave and return dates or any important changes, such as new key holder information, emergency contacts or anything the Posse should be aware of about the property itself.
It is important to emphasize that although the Vacation Watch signature card is only a one-time requirement, it must be on file before a home can be checked. No signature card means no entry onto the property.
The posse is committed to ensure property safety and security for those residents leaving for the summer. The new computerized system will make this process easier for both the posse and the residents.
Note: Ms. Vejraska is public relations officer for Sheriff’s Posse of Sun City West.