Vacation House Watch Program

The Johnston Police Department offers a residential Vacation House Watch program for Johnston residents that leave their homes unoccupied for periods greater than one week. Due to increasing service demands, the Police Department is no longer able to provide this service for shorter absences from the community. Additionally, the following parameters also apply in order to qualify for this service:
  • Must be a single property residence – no apartments, condos, or row town-homes
  • Homes that are unoccupied due to pending sale do not qualify for the Vacation House Watch program
  • Residences occupied by a house or pet sitter, watched closely by a neighbor or someone who is frequenting the home daily will no longer qualify for this program. We ask that you rely on this person to report suspicious activity to the police as it is observed so that we can best allocate our personnel resources to other proactive policing initiatives.
  • The maximum duration of this service will be four (4) weeks unless the vacation watch is renewed. Renewals may be completed through the online form or requests for extensions made by emailing or calling the Johnston Police Department Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 515-278-2345.
Vacation House Watch

How It Works

The Vacation House Watch program allows residents to sign up and have the Police Department keep an “extra watch” on your residence while it is vacated for an extended period - longer than seven days. During your absence, Police Department staff will drive by your residence more frequently to visually check that everything appears to be safe and secure. In addition, an exterior physical security check will be conducted once a week of windows and doors.

The Police Department cannot guarantee the frequency in which your residence is checked or assume any liability should something happen to your home while you are away. As a result, the Department encourages you to follow some additional steps (PDF) before you depart and utilize the Vacation House Watch program as an added layer of protection to help provide some additional peace of mind.

Tips during vacation
The Vacation H Whether you’re going on vacation, traveling for business, or have been unexpectedly called away, the Johnston Police Department recommends that you take the time to follow these tips
 anytime you are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time.

  • Arrange for a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative to watch your house while you are away. Let them know where you are going and how you can be reached in case of an emergency.
  • Don’t allow mail, newspapers, fliers, or deliveries to pile up or remain outside your home. Arrange to have packages delivered to a friend or neighbor, stop the newspaper, ask the post office to hold your mail, or ask someone you trust to collect these items daily and hold them for you until you return.
  • Arrange to have someone place your garbage and recycling bins at the curb on your normal pickup day(s) and then return the bins after pick up has been made.
  • Arrange to have someone care for your lawn during the seasonal months and clear you’re your sidewalk, driveway, and walkway during the winter.
  • Keep the trees, plants and shrubbery around your home trimmed to reduce or eliminate shadows and hiding places.
  • Have outside lighting set to turn on at dusk and off at dawn. Place some of your inside lights on timers that are set turn on/off at random times during the night.
  • Limit the number of people who know you’re going to be gone. Don’t post or share your plans on social media sites or announce your absence on your answering machine.
  • Turn down the volume control on your telephone ringer and answering machine so they cannot be heard from the outside.
  • Ensure that all of the windows and doors on the outside of your home and garage are locked and secured. Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, or other “secret” hiding places where they could potentially be found and used to gain entry into your home.
  • Allow neighbors to use and park in your driveway while you’re away. If you plan to leave a vehicle parked in your driveway, have someone move it occasionally.
  • If you have a security alarm system, turn it on. Ensure that it is working properly and that the monitoring service has an accurate and up-to-date activation contact list.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, serial numbers, and value. Make sure you update it regularly to ensure the information is current and accurate.
  • Form a Neighborhood Watch group. Make it a practice to watch out for each other and to call the Police Department at 515.278.2345 if you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood.
  • Fill out a vacation watch form if you are going to be away for seven days or longer. This form will be sent to the Johnston Police Department to keep an eye on your home during the time you will be away.