TPD will send officer to check on travelers' homes

- If you're hitting the road or taking to the skies this holiday season, that means your home is likely left vulnerable.

To help, Tampa police are offering Vacation Watch – an initiative aimed at keeping burglars and porch pirates at bay.

Basically, an officer will stop by and make sure everything’s OK while you’re gone.

Sign up is simple through an online form and the department says it’s conducted nearly 3,500 property checks already this year.

Officers have also received upwards of 200 requests for service in the last week.

"It's an excellent way for us to reach out to the community and for them to reach out to us," said Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, the face of the campaign.

The program is being promoted with Dugan’s take on a famous scene from the holiday movie classic “Home Alone.”

In the promotional flier, Dugan recreates the movie character, Kevin’s reaction to the burn of aftershave; his hands on his cheeks and mimicking a scream.

"I had a feeling it was going to come back to haunt me," said Dugan. "It's kind of gone viral and if that's what it takes to make people aware I'm willing to do it."

Dugan says Vacation Watch lets travelers enjoy their trips without concern. Officers come by when they have free time on their patrol, so if a porch pirate or burglar did target your home it wouldn't be long before cops figured it out.

"This is the time families get together it's supposed to be a happy time and when crimes like that happen it's really unconscionable," said traveler Susan Ruchman.

The program is offered year-round. To sign-up, visit https://www.tampagov.net/vacationwatch.

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