WYOMING, Mich. — As families prepare for their spring break trips, local police hope their to-do list includes a call to their departments.
“Home break-ins can be a crime of opportunity,” said Capt. Tim Pols with the Wyoming Department of Public Safety. “When people are aware that others are away, that can provide the opportunity for someone to break into a home.”
Pols explains each year during popular travel times, like spring break, Wyoming police often see an uptick in reported burglaries.
As a result, the department started a year-round program in which people can request cadets who go to their houses or apartments while they’re away.
“They’ll [the cadets] stop by your home at various times and just check to see that the home is okay,” said Pols. “They’ll walk around if they’re able to get into the backyard, check the area, make sure nothing is out of place or obviously suspicious.”
If a cadet spots something wrong, an officer is brought out and handles the case from there.
The service is provided free of charge.
Several other law enforcement agencies in West Michigan offer similar services, including the following:
- Kent County Sheriff’s Office — Click here.
- Grand Rapids Police Department (Applications must be filled out 7 calendar days prior) — Click here.
- Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office — Click here.
- Holland Department of Public Safety — Click here.
- Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office — Click here.
- Muskegon Heights Police Department — Call (231) 733-8900.
“Who wants to come home from a vacation and discover that kind of circumstance?” asked Michelle LaJoye-Young, Kent County sheriff. “It would be better to be prepared for it and have resources lined up.”
LaJoye-Young says in addition to helping homeowners, it allows police to prevent or better solve crimes.
“We absolutely have had circumstances where somebody’s house was broken in to while they were gone and it was discovered by our house-check services,” said LaJoye-Young. “It’s better that we know that as close to the time that it happens as possible because it’s often related to other incidents.”
Other steps police recommend taking before leaving for a trip include:
- Locking doors and windows.
- Removing hidden keys.
- Limiting social media posts that show you away from home.
- Utilizing timed lights, other home surveillance technology, like Ring cameras.
- Asking other family members and friends to check in on your home too.
- Stopping mail services.
“Your home is one of your safe places and where we want you to feel safe,” said Pols. “Having your home broken in to, whether you’re there or not, is a big deal, so if there are steps that we can take as the police and the department of public safety, we definitely want to assist our citizens in that way.”
READ MORE: How you can enjoy spring break on a budget and in Pure Michigan