Social networks like Facebook are the new favourite hangout spot for burglars. They like to target the homes of their victims by following posts about people going away for the holidays. A survey of 69 known burglars, conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology in conjunction with Perth’s Edith Cowan University, has indicated that the criminals have been relying mostly on data gathered by scanning the status updates of unsuspecting victims.
How Do They Do It?
As it turns out it is quite simple – your posts give you away! When you announce the good news of going on a vacation to an exotic destination, not only do you get congratulations from your friends and acquaintances, but you also fall under the radar of the criminals who make a living out of “digging up that sort of information”. Afterwards, it is rather easy for someone with medium computer knowledge to come up with your current address.
Even worse, thanks to websites like Google Street View, burglars can not only find out where to find your unattended belongings, but they can also browse the neighbourhood, and check out the security of your dwelling without even coming close.
Which Homes Are the Most Vulnerable?
The study indicated that most burglaries were spontaneous, and consequently the homes that were targeted (despite the Facebook-and-other-social-networks research) were the ones that the criminals deemed most vulnerable. There are also certain indicators of an empty home like leaving the lights on when you are out or piles of mail in the mail box that are taken as an invitation by the burglars.
How to Protect Yourselves?
53% of the participants in the survey claimed that a dog in the house is certain to put them off from targeting the home. An elaborate alarm system is also a good choice, provided that you don’t forget to switch it on when you head out. In addition, you should avoid hiding the spare keys under the doormat or on the top of the door frame – there is a reason why these spots are a cliché.
Last but not least, you need to carefully vet your online friends, limit the posts on the networks about your current whereabouts, and try not to publish photos from your holiday trip before you come home.