ELK GROVE (CBS13) – On vacation and on alert, the Elk Grove Police Department wants to make sure you’re covered while you’re away. So they’re setting up a free service to look after your home.

They’re like the first line of defense. They are the first to know if something is out of place, and the first to call if the bad guys go to your home.

Rafael Galvan, a retired state worker, started volunteering a few months ago. This gets him out of the house and is helping the community he’s called home for 44 years.

Gary Evans has spent four years of checking on homes while people vacation.

“We’re looking for things been disturbed. We’ll check windows, screens,” said Evans.

Elk Grove Police offers this free service because of volunteers like these two, who sometimes check 20 homes a day.

“In these economic times a lot of agencies are cutting down on services; but for us, we are able to maintain the service level,” said Officer Chris Trimm.

They haven’t had any layoffs. In fact, their volunteer force is growing from about 40 last year and almost doubling to 70 this year.

It’s not all retirees, many are fresh out of school, looking for work in law enforcement and joining the unpaid cop-crew.

“They’re actually looking to get a foot into an agency,” said Trimm.

And the people they help are grateful

“They’re doing great work,” said Elk Grove resident Andy Everett.

But, Everett has had a couple break-ins, so he prefers stronger security measures.

“I get my neighbors and turn on my alarm system,” said Everett.

Evans and Galvan will scope out a vacationer’s home every day while they’re gone, from the front yard to the back yard. It’s a full check up.

During a tough economy it’s a service they would’ve lost if it wasn’t for these guys.

It’s giving back at its finest, to serve and protect with no pay.