OCEAN CITY – With the arrival of the holiday travel and others in the resort starting to seek warmer climates to ride out the winter, there are countless vacant properties in the resort, but there is a proactive program in place to prevent burglaries.
Homeowners and business owners can register their properties with the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) residential check program. Through the program, OCPD officers will randomly go around at different times of the day to ensure registered properties are secure.
During the registration, homeowners provide information about how long they will 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. OCPD Deputy Communications Manager Ashley Miller this week explained how the residential check program can prevent burglaries from happening in the first place and assist in investigations if and when they occur and are reported later.
“The free residential security check program is a great opportunity for community members to lend a helping hand in deterring crime,” she said. “This program lets officers know that a resident will be away for a short or extended period. Our officers are then able to keep an eye on the property, not only to ensure the property is safe, but to the owner some peace of mind.”
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.
Many resort property owners close up their second homes in Ocean City and winterize them. 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, according to Miller.
“Are you going on vacation for a week or two?” she said. “Do you own a second home in Ocean City that is currently unoccupied? Let us know and we’ll check on it up to five times per week while you’re away. The residential security check program is completely free and gives citizens that leave their homes peace of mind while they are away.”
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 burglaries in the late spring and early summer months,” she said. “Officers have reported that during the investigation, it is sometimes determined that the incident occurred over the winter and went unnoticed until the homeowner returned for the summer months.”
The OCPD’s residential security check module is used to track residential and commercial addresses that require special monitoring. As OCPD 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. 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.
The proliferation of social media outlets allows would-be criminals the opportunity to find out who is away and how long they will be gone. Miller advised local residents 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.
“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,” said Miller. “If the officer sees anything that varies from the information the homeowner provided, they will investigate further and contact the homeowner.”
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 right side of the webpage.