SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Are you leaving your home for the holidays? The Spartanburg Police Department is taking extra measures to make sure you and your home are safe.

Officers from the Spartanburg Police Department are hitting the ground, patrolling during the holiday season. Officers said there are ways that you can help protect yourself too.

Senior Patrol Officer Rita Castro is one of many helping keep the community safe this holiday season.

“I’m a sister, I’m a daughter, I’m an aunt. I’m all those things that everybody else is, but I just choose to put this uniform on, because at the end of the day, I would give my life for somebody I’ve never met,” said Officer Castro.

One of the ways she does this is by checking on people’s homes while they’re away.

“Protecting during the holiday season, so you can have a great time with your family is number one our list, for sure,” she said.

This is something the Spartanburg Police Department does.

“Give them information that you’ll be going out of town and what we have is a “Keep Check” List. And on that list, it has addresses for the officers to come by, on their down time, and check your home,” said Major Art Littlejohn.

They will need some information from you, first.

“How to get in contact with you, if there’s an emergency. What cars that we need to look for. Things that the officer needs to look for,” said Major Littlejohn.

Officers like Castro will do a thorough check.

“What we’ll do is we will just drive by that house, check the doors, make sure everything looks normal,” said Officer Castro.

If something is wrong, they will contact you, then investigate further.

“Break-ins during the holiday season, trying to get presents for someone else. That’s common,” said Castro.

There are other ways you can protect yourself.

“We go out of town and we post those things on our social media page, that we’re out of town. But that lets everyone know that we’re not home ,” said Major Littlejohn.

“One of the biggest things I recommend is outdoor lighting. Lighting plays a big role,” said Officer Castro.

Major Art Littlejohn also recommended having cameras.

“It’s just basic home security,” he said.

Officer Castro said this job requires sacrifice, especially during the holidays.

“It’s tough being away from your family but knowing that you’re out protecting the streets,” she said. “So other people can enjoy their time with their family. It’s worth it.”

Major Littlejohn said if you would like to put your home on a “Keep Check” list to give the department a few day’s notice and call them directly at: (864) 596-2035.

You can make a request for officers to check your home at any point during the year.

More safety tips from Major Littlejohn:

  • Park vehicles in well-lit areas
  • Be sure to park your vehicle underneath a light post
  • Avoid parking next to vans and large trucks that block your space from the general vision of others
  • Remember to lock your vehicles’ doors at all times
  • If possible, walk to your car and to the store with a partner  
  • Always have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle
  • Do not leave tempting/valuable items in plain view where someone can easily see them
  • Put all of your items in the trunk where they are secure and out of sight
  • When possible, take your bags directly home instead of leaving them in the car
  • Hide packages and gifts, close windows during the day when not at home
  • Only post pictures on social media after you return home  
  • Notify a trusted neighbor if you are going out of town
  • Inspect your Christmas lights, turn them off when away and at bedtime