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Enable Auto-Lock and Passcode Lock
If you leave your iPad in a taxi or on an airplane, anyone can pick it up and look through your email, contacts and photos -- and that's probably the least of your worries. A simple way to avoid unnecessary data exposure is with a Passcode Lock. You can enable it in Settings > General > Passcode Lock. A Passcode Lock is useless if a thief grabs your iPad while it's awake.
I also recommend enabling Auto-Lock which locks your iPad after a defined period of inactivity. If you're super security-minded (or General David Patraeus) I recommend that you also disable the 4-digit "Simple Passcode" in lieu of something more complex. According to Agilebits, developer of the excellent 1Password, a four-digit passcode can be cracked in 20 minutes, while an eight character passcode comprised of lowercase letters and the spacebar will take 1,000 years to crack.
Purchase the AppleCare+ Protection Plan
If you didn't buy the AppleCare+ Protection Plan (APP) for your iPad or iPhone at the time of purchase, don't sweat it. You can purchase the Apple extended warranty -- which I highly recommend -- for up to 30 days after purchase. In addition to extending the technical support period from 90-days to two years, the new AppleCare+ package offers adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage (even if it was due to negligence), subject to a $79 service fee.
In the past, the old AppleCare (before they added the "+") didn't cover drops, shatters, or liquid submersions, but the new AppleCare+ does -- again, subject to a $79 deductible. Anyone's who's ever shattered their iPhone screen or baptized it in the toilet, sink or pool will agree that paying $79 is a lot better than the $269 Apple charges for an "out of warranty" service on an iPhone 5/5s/5c.
AppleCare+ must be purchased within 30 days of iPhone purchase and requires inspection of your iPhone and proof of purchase. You can no longer purchase AppleCare after an incident has occurred. So it's best to purchase AppleCare+ before you leave the store. If you buy an iPhone and AppleCare+ online, Apple will auto-enroll you so there's no additional work required to active your coverage.
If you're still on the fence, I recomment an article in Macworld by Jonathan Seff published on September 9, 2013 called Is AppleCare worth it?
Keep your iPad in a case
The iPad is a thin piece of aluminum and glass that costs between $500 and $1000 and one drop could be fatal. I realize that some people are loathe to cloak their beautiful Apple devices in a case, but if you take your device out of the house, it could save you an expensive repair. Cases are very personal items, like apparel or a bag, and everyone has a unique sense of style. One case that I consistenly rely on is the SmartCase ($57-59) from Waterfield designs. They're made in San Francisco from high-quality materials and offer some of the best protection in the business.