Tips for protecting yourself and your belongings from fire and theft at hotels.

Fires can happen anywhere, including hotels. But guests can reduce their own risk by following fire safety tips. (Jason Plotkin / Associated Press)

Be suspicious of a call from the front desk just after checking in requesting verification of your credit card number, "because the imprint was unreadable." A thief may have watched you enter the motel room and called from the guest phone in the lobby.

Whenever you're in the room, secure the deadbolt and chain lock. Keep windows and balcony doors locked.

Portable travel locks, motion alarms, door braces, doorjambs and rubber wedges are available. Buy and use them. They cost less than $25 and ensure a safe night's sleep.

Keep a closed-door policy.

Be sure the peephole works and use it to verify the identity of maids, room-service attendants or anyone else who knocks.

Do not open your hotel door for someone you don't know. If you didn't request towels or shampoo, communicate through the closed door.

Don't open your hotel door to "room inspectors" who could swipe valuables as they pretend to check the quality of housekeeping.

Leave nothing of value in your hotel room when you're gone. You're deluding yourself if you think your laptop, the information on it, your jewelry, money, iPad or anything else is safe unattended in your hotel room.

It's easy enough for a man in a three-piece suit to walk into your room while it is being cleaned, and say to the maid, "Excuse me, I just have to get something," and to grab the suitcase with all your camera equipment.

When leaving your room for the day, keep your hotel key with you instead of at the front desk. Leave your Do Not Disturb sign on your door so others think it's occupied.

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