In the past, burglars used obituaries to find out when families would be out of their homes at a funeral. These days burglars use social media as a burglary database, rich with personal information like locations and work titles.
So how do burglars use social media to find targets?
One burglar admitted to checking geotagged locations or “check-ins” on social media to find victims who were away from home. Once he found a potential victim, he would follow the internet trail and find photos of his target’s home. In most cases, he could easily find out their home address which is embedded in the photos by the geotag.
Scary right? It shows just how easy it is for burglars to use social media to find vulnerable homes. In fact, a survey conducted in the UK shows that more than 78 percent of burglars are now using social media to find targets.
These statistics show that you may need to start thinking twice about what you’re posting on social media. A burglar can use social media to find out everything they need to know about you:
- If you checked in at a restaurant, they know you’ll be out for a couple of hours
- When you post pictures of your holiday, they know that they have at least a couple of days to strike
- Even casual mentions of your new work schedule, upcoming dinner date, or an event you’re planning to attend can offer important clues about your routine
So keep in mind that the minute you post any of those details, the burglar can begin planning when and how they are going to strike.
While there’s nothing wrong with sharing photos and status updates on social media with your friends and family, be careful of your privacy settings as the wrong people could be looking at your check-ins, tweets, status updates and other social media posts.
Here are our top tips for how to keep your home safe from burglars who use social media to find targets:
- Privacy settings – Lockdown your Facebook privacy settings using Facebook’s privacy shortcuts. They help you control who can find you on Facebook, who can see your posts and who can contact you.
- Friend requests- Never accept a friend request from a stranger as they could be a burglar in disguise!
- Personal information – Don’t share personal information on social media. Sharing your phone number, home address, hometown or birthday makes it easier for burglars to locate you and increases your vulnerability to identity theft.
- Checking in – Don’t “check-in” on Facebook when you’re at airports or hotels. This tells would-be thieves that you’re leaving town and leaving your home vulnerable.
- Holidays – Don’t share details about any upcoming travel plans. Also, wait until you get back from holiday to share those vacation snaps online. A post of you laying on the beach is the equivalent of leaving your front door open for two weeks while you’re away.
- Your routine – Avoid sharing information about your daily routines like your new work schedule, the yoga class you take every Wednesday at 2pm or your Friday night plans. This gives potential thieves key information about your life and when you’re most likely to be out.
- Location – Turn off your social media location feature as this can automatically tag your whereabouts when you post to social media sites. You can also turn off your phone’s geotag/location function, this way your personal information will be much more secure.