Whether you’re away on vacation or just running to the store to pick up some groceries, you’ll want to make sure that your apartment is safe and secure–especially your valuables. You may not realize how special those items are to you until they’re taken. Luckily, you can prevent burglary and keep your most prized possessions safe with some basic steps:

Make Your Apartment Look Lived-In

There are ways to be as clever as young Kevin McCallister in Home Alone without having to lace the steps of your apartment building with tar. One of the best ways to fend off potential thieves and prevent burglary is to make your home look lived-in. This isn’t to say that you should leave your lights on 24/7–not only is this a waste of natural energy, but if a burglar has his or her eye on your apartment, he or she will notice if the lights don’t go on and off. Instead, place various lamps or outdoor lights on timers set for different times so they go off and on at random intervals.

If you’re going to be away for a long period of time, consider keeping your apartment safe by having the post office temporarily hold your mail. This way, you won’t have piles of newspapers in front of your door and an overflowing mailbox, which would indicate that nobody is home and probably won’t be for a while.

Find Unique Hiding Places

Before leaving your home, hide the valuables you just couldn’t bear to be taken, like a prized ring or heirloom that has been in the family for generations. Here some of the best hiding places:

Fake wall outlet: Take a note from Walter White of the hit AMC series Breaking Bad by storing your valuables in a wall outlet. There are fake outlets you can purchase, made of plastic and metal, that can be attached to any wall in your apartment. All you have to do is unscrew the faceplate and a secret drawer pops out.

A candle: You can purchase aromatherapy candles which are made of real wax on the outside, but have a hollowed out inside where you can store jewelry, money or other possessions. It’s unlikely that burglars are going to want to stop and light a candle just so the room can smell lovely while they steal everything.

Buy a Safe

Many people are choosing to buy secure, home safes to store their most important items. However, it’s not a good idea to put these safes out in the open–once burglars see a safe, they are going to do everything they can to get into it. Instead, keep it out of view.

Double-Check Before You Leave

Before you leave your apartment, no matter how long you’re planning on being gone, do a last minute check to ensure that all the doors and windows are locked and secure. If your apartment has a garage or screened-in porch, be sure to secure those entry points as well.