Hopefully, an owner within your association will never have the misfortune to be a victim of a burglary. Burglaries not only result in damage to the home, but more importantly, result in the loss of peace of mind. Criminals everywhere look forward to summer-time because during the time an owner is basking in the sun on vacation, the burglar has the luxury of time to plan the perfect crime.
Community association boards should consider starting a program that aims to reduce the potential for burglars to strike. “Vacation Watch Programs” have sprung up in several Ohio community associations. When an owner plans to leave town for an extended period of time, they fill out a Vacation Watch Request. This form contains information on dates of departure and return, any cars that will be parked in the driveway, lights that are left on or are on a timer, and some emergency contact numbers in case of an incident. If someone will be coming over to feed a pet or collect mail, that information is also included.
This form is then either given to a trusted neighbor or board member chairing the association’s neighborhood watch volunteers. These neighbors or volunteers then regularly check on the home. While no effort can completely eliminate the possibility of a break-in, regular drive-bys and check-ups can greatly reduce them. This form must also include a disclaimer or notice that the association, board members, or neighbors who are monitoring the unit are not in any way responsible or liable for anything that might happen while the owner is away, such as from vandalism, water line breaks, or theft.
A Vacation Watch Program costs nothing and requires minimal effort on the part of those keeping an eye on the home. For community association, such a program can enhance neighborly values while providing added security for residents on vacation.