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Sheriff's deputies to perform vacant house checks

Live from City Hall

Posted: February 5, 2009 6:09 p.m.
Updated: February 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
During these challenging economic times and the downturn in the housing market, residents, business and community leaders are seeing an increase in the number of vacant houses and other structures throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

If not maintained, secured and frequently checked, some of these vacant structures can become a haven for those intent on wrongdoing.

The old "broken window theory" is important to remember: one broken window attracts other nuisances, and soon there are many more "broken windows."

Your city believes that vacant properties can lead to incidents of trespassing, vandalism, unlawful parties or gatherings, arson, drug use and other illegal or nuisance-related activities that can reduce property values and challenge the peace, serenity and safety of our neighborhoods.

It is our goal to be proactive in our approach to preventing these kinds of problems and through this action, continue to provide excellent public service to our residents.

As part of this forward-thinking approach toward best protecting our community, the city and Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station have developed and launched a new "vacant house-check" program.

Deputies, volunteers on patrol, reserve deputies, and other station and city personnel will be regularly checking vacant properties, including houses, condominiums, businesses or other structures.

Also, as a neighbor or a resident, you may request a vacant house, business or structure check through the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.

If you are aware of a vacant or abandoned structure in your neighborhood or business community that appears to be attracting a criminal element, you are encouraged to provide the Sheriff's Department with as much information as you can about the property so that it can be checked out.

By working in partnership with our residents and the business community during challenging times, we can protect our quality of life in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Here are some tips for owners and property managers of vacant properties and structures in the Santa Clarita Valley:

  • Have good locks on the doors, garages, windows and gates. Use them and check them regularly.
  • Empty swimming pools, Jacuzzis and ponds.
  • Keep the lawn mowed and other shrubs trimmed and watered.
  • Leave random interior and exterior lighting on by using timers when possible.
  • Replace broken windows.
  • Try to make sure the house appears "lived in."
  • Frequently pick up mail, packages and newspapers.
  • Place alarm or neighborhood watch signs in the yard or stickers on the windows.
  • "Beware of dog" signs can also be helpful.
  • Leave emergency contact numbers for property owners, managers or realtors in an accessible place or give them to a trustworthy nearby neighbor.
When in doubt, let the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station check it out. Free vacant house checks are available, by request, through the sheriff's Web site at: www.scvsheriff.com or call the SCV Sheriff's Station at (661) 255-1121.

Anthony La Berge is captain of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, and Bob Kellar is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. Their column represents their own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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