OCEAN CITY — In the midst of the holiday travel season and with many seeking warmer climates to ride out the winter, there are countless vacant properties in the resort, but the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) has a residential security check program in place to prevent burglaries.
Through the program, homeowners and business owners can register their properties with the OCPD’s residential security check program and officers will randomly go around at different times of the day to ensure the properties are secure. During the registration, homeowners provide information about how long they are going to be away, what interior and exterior lights are on timers, who might be visiting the property, what vehicles might be in the driveway and any other pertinent information.
Vacant properties throughout the resort in the winter months provide opportunities for would-be criminals. Some are intent on clearing vacant properties out of valuables. In other cases, would-be criminals are looking for a warm place to crash for a few days. In either case, registering a property with the OCPD’s residential security check program can prevent winter break-ins and ensure properties remain secure while the owners are on vacation or have simply moved away from the winter solitude in the resort to warmer climes.
“If a home that is broken into is on our residential security check list, our officers will notice that the burglary occurred,” said Ocean City Deputy Communications Director Ashley Miller. “They will be able to determine a better time frame of when it could have happened based on the residential check logs. This will help to increase the chances that we’ll find a suspect and possibly recover stolen items.”
Many resort property owners winterize their second homes in Ocean City. Unfortunately, some return in the spring or early summer and find their property has been burglarized. The OCPD’s residential check program is an effective way to prevent that from happening in many cases and it’s free and easy to register.
“After answering a few simple questions, the homeowner’s information will be added to our database and officers will begin checking on the home multiple times each week,” she said. “If the officer sees anything that varies from the information that the homeowner provided, they will investigate further and contact the homeowner.”
In some cases, local residents come home from prolonged vacations to learn their property has been burglarized, vandalized or otherwise tampered with. In others, those who have second homes in the resort return for the first time in the spring to find the same result. Registering with the residential security check program can prevent that.
“In Ocean City, we typically see a spike in reports of burglary in the late spring and early summer months,” she said. “During the investigation, it is sometimes determined that the incident actually occurred over the winter and went unnoticed until the homeowner returned for the summer months. Signing up for our residential security check program is a proactive measure the homeowner can take to help reduce the possibility of a burglary occurring.”
In addition to crime-related activity, the residential security check program allows the OCPD to alert homeowners to natural occurrences such as broken pipes or storm damage, for example.
“With heavy winds and freezing temperatures, officers are able to note storm damage to the property quicker,” said Miller. “Last spring, there was a lot of places that had busted water pipes during the spring time. If we are checking on your place, we are able to notice the possibility of water damage from broken pipes. Those are a couple additional things I have been telling people when they inquire about the program. No one ever thinks about the issues mother nature causes.”
The OCPD’s residential security check module is used to track residential and commercial addresses that require special monitoring. As officers patrol Ocean City, their observations and comments for the locations are captured in the department’s CAD system. When a special watch expires, a detailed report can be generated that outlines the frequency of the officer checks and any observations or unique circumstances experienced by officers for a specific address. More importantly, the security check system provides officers with enough information to quickly contact residents about their property in an emergency.
Miller advised citizens to be careful about how much information they make public, including pictures of them on social media platforms such as Facebook for example. Beyond that, a handful of common sense tips can prevent resort property owners from becoming victims of crime while they are away from home.
The program is completely free and available to anyone with property with the corporate limits of Ocean City. To sign up, homeowners can visit oceancitymd.gov/police and click on the Residential Checks link on the left side of the webpage.