While many people are packing their bags and heading out of town to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends, they’re also leaving their homes and personal belongings behind unattended—creating prime opportunities for potential thieves.
To help ease travelers’ nerves and ward off criminal activity at empty homes, the Division of Public Safety is offering special property checks for Penn faculty, staff, and students over the Winter Break.
“These checks are both proactive and reactive,” says Joe Fischer, a captain in the Penn Police Department. “If someone is thinking about breaking into a house and sees our police officers checking buildings, they’re likely to reconsider.”
The property checks are available to anyone living within the Penn patrol boundaries: east to west from 30th to 43rd streets, and north to south from Market Street to Baltimore Avenue. Property checks cannot be provided for interior areas of apartment complexes.
To sign up for a special check, faculty, staff, and students can visit the Public Safety website, where they will be required to complete a form that involves disclosing an occupant list, vacancy dates, potential scheduled building repairs, tenant work schedules, and the landlord’s contact information.
Public Safety will begin performing checks on Friday, Dec. 19, and will continue checking the units every day until the tenant’s designated return date, as late as Sunday, Jan. 11.
For each check, a Penn Police officer will examine the physical exterior of each property, making sure doors and windows are secured and there are no signs of tampering. If a property does appear to have been burglarized, or if it looks as though a tenant forgot to lock a door or shut a window, Public Safety will contact the tenant’s landlord to ensure the property is properly secured.
For anyone leaving their home for an extended period of time during the break, Fischer recommends making sure that the last person to leave the building locks all windows and doors. He also suggests leaving an indoor and porch light on throughout the break.
“When officers are driving by, if the porch light is on, they’ll see anyone trying to break in on that porch,” Fischer says. “It really does deter intruders.”
Fischer says Public Safety completes around 60 to 80 property checks per break. Checks are also offered during the Thanksgiving holiday and Spring Break.
For more information and to sign up for a property check, visit the Public Safety website.