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There’s nothing like leaving it all behind and getting out to celebrate with family and friends. But that holiday vacation joy will quickly disappear if you return to trouble on the home front. It is not just the Grinch who steals gifts on Christmas.  The holiday season is open season as far as criminals are concerned. So while you’re packing for your getaway, make sure you’re also prepping the empty home you’re leaving behind. Take the following steps prior to leaving your home unattended for a few days to ensure you won’t return to an upsetting or costly scenario:

Put the lights on a timer. Total darkness or lights blazing round the clock are both good ways to let burglars know you’re out of town. Invest in a timer or smart home app that lets you turn the lights on and off remotely.

Notify your security company. If you have a security alarm system, notify the monitoring company that you plan to be away. Consider an outside motion sensor that will alert your neighbors and the police if anyone attempts a break-in.

Be smart on social media. We all love to share a vacation picture or two, but hold back on the details. Don’t share your departure date or check-in to out of town locations. This lets thieves know precisely where you are – which is not home.

Turn off the main water valve that leads into the house and check for leaks. If a pipe bursts while you’re away, water could ruin your floors, furniture, walls and possessions.

Put your water heater on vacation mode. The pilot light will remain on, but you'll save the cost of unnecessary heating. If you have an electric water heater, turn the temperature dial down or turn it off at the circuit breaker panel.

Adjust the thermostat. Set the thermostat to 55 degrees in the colder winter months if there’s a chance pipes could freeze. Or consider a smart thermostat that will let you control the temperature remotely from your mobile device.