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Everybody needs a vacation. But an empty house can be an invitation for a burglar. Follow these tips, and make it seem like your home sweet home is happily occupied.

Apps That Distract Several apps can turn lights on in your home. Others can help you manage a home security system remotely. Home Protector, one of the security apps available at the Mac App Store, plays baby sounds, dogs barking, coffee grinding—all at prescheduled hours, to convince would-be burglars that someone is home.

Did You Know?

  10 Average number of minutes that a burglar needs for a home robbery.

Deal With Mail You might get a neighbor to pick up your mail, but it’s better to have the Postal Service hold delivery while you’re away. You can get your mail stopped by visiting your local post office, or by filling out a form online at USPS.com.

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Shine a Light Burglars hate security lights outside. Motion-sensor lighting can make it seem like someone turned on a light to check out the yard. The technology doesn’t need to be expensive, either. Motion-sensor outlets can be purchased starting at $50, and will turn on your lights if anybody steps into the perimeter of your home.

Beware of Social Media Of course you want to post your whereabouts on Facebook and Foursquare. But telling people where you are is also telling them where you aren’t. Three tips can help: 1) Set your privacy settings, so that only very close friends see your vacation posts. 2) Consider talking about your vacation only after you get back. 3) Disable the GPS connection on Facebook, so it doesn’t broadcast your out-of-town status.

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Create a visual home inventory of your belongings for a complete record if you ever have a claim using the Allstate Digital Locker app.

Fake a Dog Burglars hate dogs. But you don’t really need a bowser to get the job done. Put a large dog dish in the yard, and a few big and mangled toys. For the finishing touch, post “Beware of Dog” signs or a note to deliverymen asking them to wait before entering.