Planning a vacation? The Galt Police Department and its civilian volunteer program are restarting a free service to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone.

Citizens Assisting Police Services (CAPS) works with the department on multiple tasks, such as traffic control at special events and crime scene containment. Through the vacation property check program, the volunteers periodically visit a residence, when the homeowner is away for more than a few days, to ensure that it is secure.

Checks are free of charge. They normally occur on weekdays during business hours and involve a visual check of the property. CAPS program coordinator Valerie Hileman said the volunteers remain at the front of the house, checking that the doors are locked and that the property hasn’t been otherwise disturbed.

CAPS volunteers are civilians at least 21 years of age, according to Hileman, and they undergo a background check and interview process before being accepted. According to the program’s webpage, they complete 40 hours of training in multiple areas, including crime prevention, basic law and traffic control.

Those wishing to have their house checked should fill out the Vacation Property Check Request form on the department website, galtpd.com. On the website, click “Services” in the menu on the left, then click “Vacation Property Check.”

An applicant should completely fill out and submit the form at least two days before leaving. Information requested includes the dates of departure and return, the kinds of vehicles that will be parked in the driveway or garage, and people who are allowed to access the house.

In addition to requesting a property check, Hileman said there are other measures residents can take to keep their home safe while on vacation.

“Usually, we ask people that they have their mail held at the post office, so it doesn’t appear as if their mail is gathering in their mailbox,” she said. “Arrange to make sure that there’s no delivery of packages at the front door.”

Also, if a resident has their garbage bins on the curb when they leave, Hileman suggested that they arrange for a neighbor to pull them in. Finally, she recommended notifying trusted friends or family members, and the alarm company.

“Honestly, it’s great for people to take advantage of,” Hileman said of the property check program, noting it can give homeowners “more of a secure feeling, being gone and having their residence checked.”