Dec4

4 out of 5 Burglars Select Victims Using Social Media Cues

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by Colton on December 4, 2012

When we consider how to protect our home from burglars, social media doesn’t typically come to mind, but it should. In addition to locking your doors and windows, installing exterior motion activated lights, and keeping shrubby low, you now need to consider how social media may leave your home vulnerable to burglars.

A survey completed by U.K. home security expert, Friedland, revealed that some burglars are using information on social media sites to target homes. In an effort to determine what burglars look for when assessing a home’s vulnerability, 50 former burglars were interviewed. A remarkable 78 percent said they strongly believed social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook and Four Square, are used by criminals when targeting homes for burglary. A full 74 percent of interviewees said they felt Google Street View was also playing a role in today’s burglaries.

Here’s good news: almost 80 percent of the ex-burglars said that a simple home alarm system would deter them from committing a break-in.

5 Social Media Tips to Keep Your Home Safe

Social media is a fun and easy way to let the people you care about know what you’re up to. The trouble is, you’re also giving a burglar valuable intelligence. In fact, according to the group of ex-burglars, homeowners make a major mistake when posting their whereabouts on social sites, and yet over 50 percent do so. Help protect your home by keeping these social media user tips in mind.

1. Don’t Offer Details. We are all excited when a trip is on the horizon, but offering up details like departure dates, length of trip and destination provides the burglar with important information about when, and how long, your home will be vacant. If you feel you must post about an upcoming event that will leave your home vacant for hours or days, keep the post general.

2. Be Careful Updating Your Status. It’s natural to want to share every step of your excursion away from home with friends and family. But status updates that tell the criminal you’ve just landed in Belize let him know you’re not going to be home anytime soon.

3. Problems With The Pictures You Post. Are you escaping a brutal Chicago winter and sitting pool-side in Mexico? No doubt you’ll want to snap a picture to make all your friends back home jealous. But keep in mind that old adage; a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s true that posts and status updates provide the criminal with excellent information, but a picture can do equal damage. Wait to post those photos until you’re back home.

4. Change Privacy Settings. Nearly every social media platform offers you the ability to control who can see your posts, Tweets, pictures, etc. Change the privacy settings to a non-public status to tighten social media security.

5. Holidays Are Prime. Criminals know that the holiday season marks an increase in travel. Be especially mindful of mentioning your travel plans to the world during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

In addition to social media insight, the ex-burglars provided a few general tips on how to make your home less open to attack. Here’s what they had to say.

  • Keep Windows Closed and Locked. The interviewees reported 94 percent of homeowners leave windows open. Take five minutes and check the security of your home’s windows.
  • Keep Valuables Out of View. The ex-burglars said that leaving valuables in a place where they can be easily seen is a common no-no.
  • Don’t Hide a Key Near the Door. Just over half the group said people make the mistake of placing spare keys by the entrance to their home. Place a key in an inconspicuous place, away from any entrance to your home.
  • Take Care with Deliveries. If you can’t be at home for your holiday deliveries, ask a neighbor to take parcels to their home, or place them inside your home. Fifty percent of the ex-burglars said that packages sitting outside a home are a big draw.
  • Security System. Homes that display signs for a home security system discourage the burglar from taking action. If your home has a security system, be sure yard signs and window stickers are visible.

The Friedland study reminds us that reducing the risk of burglary doesn’t have to be complicated. From being conscious of what you post on social media, to following basic home security measures and installing a home security system, you’ll be well on your way to making your home a less appealing target.