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When you're on vacation the most important thing you can do while you're gone is protect your home. You want to shut off all the electrical appliances to avoid fire, and you want to keep prospective burglars away. Here are some things you can do to protect your home–and make it appear secure–when you're away from home.

• Lock your doors and windows. Go around your house and make sure every entrance way is securely locked. Burglars typically enter a home through the front door. You want to keep that door locked at all times and protect it the best you can.
• Use timed lights. You want to make your house appear occupied while you're away. If you have lights that you can program to come on during certain hours and then turn off again, that kind of device can be helpful.
• Have someone pick up your mail. A key to burglars that you're out of town is often that you aren't retrieving your mail. Ask a friend or neighbor to stop by your home each day to pick up your mail.
• Leave a car in the garage or driveway. If you leave your car in your driveway, it's often a sign to burglars that you are home. But it can also leave your car vulnerable to criminals.
• Don't do your same tasks each day. If you come home from work, go for a jog, do yard work, and leave your door open at the same time each day, this can trigger ideas for criminals. You want to vary your schedule enough so it isn't predictable when you'll be home and when you won't.
• Don't put a door key under your front mat. This is the place everyone keeps a key, and criminals know this. If you need to have a key outside your home at all times, ask a neighbor or friend to keep one.
• Install security lights. If you have a motion detector or a night light outside your house, that can be helpful. Many criminals attack at night. But if they see they may be watched, they may be hesitant to proceed.