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Whether you are leaving town for an extended vacation or a short business trip, here are a few tips to make sure that you will not return to any surprises.

Cancel newspaper delivery service. A pile of newspapers in the driveway is a sure sign that no one is home.

Have your mail held at the post office, or ask a neighbor to collect it each day.

Lock any backyard gates and bring in toys, outdoor furniture etc, in the case of inclement weather.

Consider leaving window treatments partially open and a light or lamp programmed to go on in the evening to give the illusion that someone is home

If your garage door has a lock, make sure it is locked. Ditto for any screen or back doors.

Unplug any appliances you will not be using.

Give away or throw away any food that will become spoiled by the time you return.

Empty trash cans and either leave trash out for pick-up or tie-up in garage. (You don't want any animals breaking into your garbage!)

If it is winter, leave a faucet dripping slightly so that your pipes will not freeze.

Water any plants and make arrangements for a neighbor to continue watering if you will be gone for an extended time.

Leave any credit cards or personal papers you will not be needing in a safety deposit box. No need to carry things you wont be using. The same goes for jewelry.

Refill any prescriptions you may need while away.

Notify a neighbor and the police department you will be gone so that they will watch for any suspicious behavior.

Bring a list with you of doctor's phone number, neighbor's number, travel agent, etc.

Arrange for return cab or limo service.

Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors batteries.

Don't forget to lock the front door when you leave!!