Santa Cruz County residents leaving the area for the holidays can rest easier.
The Sheriff's Office automates its vacation-check program so those who live in unincorporated areas of the county can use the sheriff's website to request security visits to their homes while they are away. The free service sends sheriff's deputies or volunteers to homes—they drive by or stop and check the property—when time permits.
"The Sheriff's Office wants the public to feel secure while they are away from home, especially during the holidays," Sheriff Phil Wowak said.
The service is provided year-round but the new online signup form was rolled out this week to streamline the process.
"We've been doing for quite some time; it's nothing new," said sheriff's deputy April Murray. "It's just a better way to get it out."
She said she's performed the checks herself on occasion.
"We walk around the perimeter of the house and do drivebys," she said. "Not only is it going on during business hours, it's going on in the middle of the night."
That helps provide security to residents, Murray said.
Go to scsheriff.com to request a vacation check. There is no cost for the service.