HOUSTON (KTRK) -- This time of year, many families pack up and head out of town on vacation. But leaving an empty house also means leaving a tempting target for thieves.
The Houston Police Department offers a free service that will send an officer to check on your home while you are away.
The service is called an Alert Slip, and Houston residents can request it on HPD's website, by phone, or in person.
"I would like officers to come out at nighttime, in the evening, and in the morning and just ride by, make sure there's no criminal activity going on, make sure no windows are broken," said HPD public affairs officer Jeremy Lahar. "This can be a way to deal with prowlers, speeding vehicles around school zones, increased burglaries and theft in the area, solicitors or loiterers at a business or just if they're going on vacation."
Last summer, Houston police reported 5,400 total burglaries in June, July, and August. Although serious crimes occur daily, Lahar says Alert Slips still receive high priority from the department.
"It's handed out at roll calls to specific officers and they say, 'Make sure you get to this.' You have to document the times that you go by, multiple times during a shift, just to show that you did the Alert Slip," Lahar said.
It is a service that many residents are unaware of. One person told Eyewitness News that his family is going on a dream vacation to Italy for 11 days and are now going to look into an Alert Slip after we told them about the service.
"I think that'd be very helpful. In addition to the neighbors, I think that would add an extra layer of security certainly," he said.
To submit a request for an Alert Slip, click here.
Houston police will watch your home for free while you're away