More residents in Columbia County are trying out house watches before leaving for vacation than in years past.
This year, the county has completed 65,913 checks – up more than 8,000 from 2010.
“There are more homes and it’s just more popular,” said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.
The free year-round service started in the county 15 years ago and was designed to give homeowners more peace of mind while on vacation. Morris said Christmas and summertime are always higher, but numbers increase almost every year.
The service is also offered by Richmond and Aiken counties, and North Augusta.
All officers do a physical check of the grounds during night and daytime hours and report back if there’s a problem.
The officers receive a description of the property they’ll be visiting and know what lights were left on, what vehicles were in the driveway, pet information and if anyone else has permission to be on the property.
“We get out of the cars and walk around to make sure everything looks and appears to be normal,” said North Augusta Public Safety Sgt. Tim Thornton.
North Augusta officers don’t see a large increase during the winter holidays, but Thornton said it remains a popular service.
Anyone wishing a house check should call the Columbia County Sheriff's Office at (706) 541-2800.