Best-Kept Secret: Urbana Police Department Vacation Watch

By Amy L. Hatch

A couple of years ago, our neighbor’s house was robbed in broad daylight.

It happened to be July, when we are usually on vacation as a family, but my husband stayed behind that year. He called me to tell me that police officers were all over the place next door and, apparently, a couple of guys carried out an enormous amount of electronic equipment — including a giant flat-screen TV — in the middle of the afternoon.

Credit: Dru Bloomfield - At Home in Scottsdale, Flickr

Needless to say, he was nervous about leaving our house empty when he came to meet us at the beach. We were lucky to have friends who could watch out for our property that year, but that isn’t always the case.

Enter the Urbana Police Department and the Vacation Watch program.

I found out about this quite by accident, on Twitter. It’s a great way to make sure that your home is safe while you are out of town, giving you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your time away. And now that vacation season is upon us (and with so many families associated with the university who travel extensively during the summer break), we thought now would be a great time to tell you about it!

It’s so easy to sign up for Vacation Watch. All you need to do is call the UPD at (217) 384-2320, or send an email to with the following information:

  • Your address
  • The name of the resident(s), including an emergency mobile number
  • Your departure and return dates
  • The name and phone number for a key holder (this is someone the police can call, locally, in case of emergency at your home)
  • Whether or not you have lights on a timer or is you are leaving any lights on
  • What vehicles, if any, will be in the driveway (and be sure to include make, model and license plate numbers)
  • If anyone be looking after the house (collecting mail, watering plants, watching pets, etc.)
Once the UPD has your information, they will periodically check out your house while you’re away, making sure that everything is as it should be. What better peace of mind could you ask for?
So don’t forget to add one more item to your vacation to-do list: Sign up for the (free!) Urbana Police Department Vacation Watch program.

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  1. Does Champaign offer anything like this?

  2. stephanie says:

    Mahomet has this too!