HELMETTA/SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The kids will be out of school in the borough as of June 20 for summer, which officially starts on June 21. With summer vacation at hand, many residents will be heading to the beach, mountains or elsewhere. However, before packing the suitcases and pulling out of the driveway for an extended summer getaway, take a few moments to secure the home. Of course the best way to keep a home safe when the owners are away is to have a house sitter. However, since that isn't an option for most folks, there are some simple tips residents can take to keep their home secure when they hit the road for a vacation.

  • Be sure to remove any spare keys from under doormats or any other hidden spots around the home.
  • Lock all doors and windows in addition to closing windows and blinds.
  • Resist the temptation to announce vacation plans on social media outlets.
  • Check the batteries in any home security devices and smoke alarms.
  • Turn off water main.
  • Unplug nonessential electronics and appliances.
  • Don't leave valuables in plain sight.
  • If possible turn water heater to vacation mode.
  • Program certain lights to make it appear as if someone is home. Check from the street in the evening to assure lights are visible through closed curtains.
  • Ask a friend of family member to stop by and check on the home.

Many people are reluctant to inform newspaper deliveries and the postal service of vacations. Yet, newspapers and mail piling up outside the home is a tell-tale sign to would-be burglars the house is empty. Another alternative to stopping delivery is asking a friend or neighbor to pick up newspaper and mail delivers.

The Spotswood Police Department also offers a vacation form option on their website. Residents can download the form and fill out the information, which includes dates of departure, return, emergency contact numbers as well as the names of people authorized to be on the property while the home owner is away. Forms can be dropped off or mailed to the Spotswood Police Department.

The Spotswood Police Department does not guarantee officers will be able to patrol properties at certain dates and times though the department does emphasis on their website that officers will make "every effort" to check residences as the daily work load and personnel will allow.