How Social Media Can Trigger a Home or Business BurglaryApril 22, 2014
With social media becoming increasingly popular, information is far more readily available to anyone who is looking for it. Unfortunately, this includes individuals with less than noble intentions. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in home burglaries using social media to find targets and then gather information to make their endeavors successful. This is especially true of premises that are not protected by burglar alarm systems.
In 2011, an interview with 50 ex-burglars in England found that 80% of those robbers were using the Internet to pick their targets. 78% of burglars use websites such as Twitter or FaceBook to find their targets, and 74% use Google Street View to look at the property without needing to go there physically. Since then, the activity has kept up, and social media remains a common, if unintentional, way to trigger a home burglary.
How It Happens
Burglars often monitor FaceBook and/or Twitter updates from their potential targets. By posting something as simple as “going to a concert tonight with the family,” burglars are able to deduce that for a few hours that night, there will be no one home at the person’s house. If they can then find out the time of the show, which can be as easy as calling the venue, they can plan their robbery. People who have made these mistakes have lost thousands of dollars in personal property as a result of these social media slip-ups. For individuals who do not own burglar alarm systems especially, posting updates about personal whereabouts can be an unintentional invitation for a burglary.
One of the primary issues that lead to social media-triggered break-ins is that people often allow strangers to view their social media profiles. This can be a simple problem of having an outdated friends or followers list. There have been cases of people in their mid-twenties or thirties who are robbed because a person they haven’t spoken to since high school was still able to read their social media updates. In 2011, it was reported that 15% of Americans commonly report on social media that they are not at home and 35% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 use social media to report their location. Without knowing the people who are reading these updates, this is not a good use of social media at all.
What Can Be Done
There are three main things a person can do to lessen the odds of their social media profiles triggering a burglary. The first is to be conscious of what they are posting on social media, and to filter their updates accordingly. The second is to keep friend’s lists up to date. It is important for social media users to know who has access to their personal information and status updates and unfriend the people they are no longer in touch with. The third is to invest in burglar alarm systems. Nearly 80% of burglars are less willing to attempt a break-in on a house that has an alarm system.
Social media is an excellent way to keep in touch with people, but it is very important that users make sure they are keeping in touch with the right people. The percentage of burglars that use social media is very high, and individuals who use these platforms should be sufficiently careful with the information they are putting online.
Image Source: Flickr/CreativeCommons/Jason Howie