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1. Stop your mail. Believe us: Nothing is an easier tip-off to potential burglars that no one's home than a full mailbox or a front step piled with newspapers. Whether you ask a neighbor or friend to pick up your mail and packages, or you officially put a hold on your mail, it's a simple idea that's completely free.
2. Set your lights on automatic timers. You certainly don't have to do this for every room in your home, but timers on lights in a few street-facing rooms are an easy way to deter intruders. Another item to set a timer on: a television or radio. The more signs of life your home exudes, the less interested a thief will be in entering.
3. Keep quiet on your social networks. In this age of instant updates, you might want to hold back posting details of your travel plans on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or Instagram, especially if your social profile is open to the public. Your friends may be eager to see your beach or hiking photos, but consider posting them after you've returned from your trip, not during. You never know who may see them, and it pays to be discreet.
4. Unplug and turn off appliances you don't need. Anything that has the potential to cause a fire or flood should be unplugged when you go out of town. If you're going on a long vacation, it's also a good idea to turn your gas off completely (or at least turn it down to the "pilot" setting) — most utility companies will do this for you for free.
5. Lock it up. Make sure all doors and windows are locked, and if your home has an alarm system, make sure it's engaged. It's a great idea to shut down and password protect all devices you leave behind (computers, cell phones, etc.). If you're going to be away for an extended period of time, you can also look into getting a police officer assigned to do some drive-byes while you're away — many local police departments have a "free vacation check" service, where they'll assign a patrol member to check on your home while you're out of town.
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What other home safety tips did we forget to mention? Tell us in the comments!