TAMPA, Fla. - It’s the holiday season, which means many will travel to be with their loved ones - leaving their homes unoccupied.

Homeowners may worry an unwanted guest will enter their home, which is why Tampa police has promoted its free Vacation Watch program where an officer will check a home while its owners are away.

“It's just a tool for travelers to notify law enforcement when they’re going to be out of town so an officer can keep an eye on eye for their home,” department spokesperson Janelle McGregor said.

Officers will be notified when a homeowner in their zone has signed up for the program, which also gives the officer an opportunity to become familiar with the resident's property and daily routines.

“They can look out for a suspicious person, if the door looks like ifs forced open, if a window is broken and that will alert then to take action,” McGregor said.

The program, which is only for Tampa residents, is meant to add an extra layer of security but the department stresses that it's not a guarantee that a home will be safe from a crime or natural disaster.

Homeowners need to apply 4-5 business days before their trip.

To register: https://www.tampagov.net/police/vacation-watch-form

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