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Here are a dozen tips for keeping your house safe when you’re gone

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It’s the time of year when we’re all thinking about taking a nice, long vacation. Lots of Arizona residents are ready to leave for the entire summer now that the weather is getting seriously warm.

We’ve often given out tips for how to protect your home when you’re out of town, but recently we got some advice from the Casa Grande Police Department that had some new ideas.

Your basic aim, according to the department, should be to make your house look like it’s not really vacant and that you could actually pop in at any time. Here are some suggestions that are particularly good when you leave for quite a while:

• Have a neighbor or friend park their second car or truck in your driveway at various times.

• If you have to leave a car at your home, don’t leave it outside with tarps covering it or rocks under tires. That’s a signal that you are not going to be home soon.

• Don’t put rocks on top of trash can lids. In fact, as we’ve often said, it’s a good idea to have a neighbor take your trash can out to the street now and then so it looks like you’re home.

• Don’t block off windows and glass doors with cardboard or other long-term sun-shading materials. In fact it would be great to have someone open and close the blinds and shades now and then. Make sure there are secure locks on every window.

• Leave the electricity on, but turn off all breakers except for one that supplies power to lights that are on timers, inside and outside your house. We’d also suggest turning off the water supply and turning off the water heater if you’re gone for several months.

• Install a motion detector light outside so a light comes on when someone walks up to the door.

• Try not to leave valuables behind. Take them with you or store them in a safe deposit box. If some of them must be left at home, be sure you keep a record of where you have stored them, what they are and what their serial numbers are. You may want that info for insurance purposes later.

• Remove name signs from outside your residence.

• Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the street so emergency vehicles can find your home quickly if there’s a problem.

• Have a neighbor or a house sitter check for any flyers, business cards, packages or newspapers left at your door or on the driveway.

• If someone is checking on your house regularly, give them phone numbers and names and addresses where they can reach you or a relative about an emergency at your house.

• Lock up your garage door and your back gate. Don’t leave extra garage door openers or keys laying around on tables and counters inside the house either.

Of course, now might be a great time to think about installing a home security system as well.