By Jeff Wagner

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) – As people skip town for spring break, thieves are preparing for their chance to break in.

With school out this week in the Apple Valley area, the police department expects burglaries to increase, specifically at homes travelers have left behind.

“We’re just cleaning up the driveway, getting ready for spring,” Marti Edgren said.

Edgren was getting a little help from her neighbors, scooping up the sand that once helped melt the ice on her driveway. It’s one of her last chores before enjoying some time away.

“I’m leaving for spring break, but the husband and older kids are staying home,” she said, which means they’ll be able to watch over their home.

But had her whole family left, she’d be leaning on the people next door.

“There’s a group of people that have been here for a while that check each other’s mail, water plants,” she said.

That’s just one tip Apple Valley police hope homeowners follow as they leave for spring break vacations since burglars tend to target homes with nobody around.

Police plan to increase patrols in neighborhoods this week, but they want homeowners to be vigilant as well. They’re reminding people to double check that doors and windows are locked before leaving, make sure alarms are properly set and make trusted neighbors aware they won’t be around.

“We’ve even cut each other’s lawns so that it looks like the house is being kept up while you’re gone,” Edgren added.

Some police departments, like in Minnetonka, offer a “Vacation House Check” program.

Homeowners register their home and the time frame they’ll be gone, and officers will swing by to keep an eye on things.

Or if you live on Edgren’s block, neighbors will be sure to have your back.

“I feel like it’s very safe. I typically don’t worry about it,” Edgren said.

Edina, Roseville, and Woodbury are just a few more police departments that offer vacation house checks. They also require you to register online.

Jeff Wagner