Holiday snaps on Facebook, bragging about our shopping spree on Twitter – new research suggests most burglars monitor social media to choose their targets. Are we sharing too much information?
Most of us already knew that posting our “away on holiday” status on a social network wasn’t smart, but the results of a survey carried out by security firm Friedland suggests we may need to watch what we write even more carefully.
In a survey of 50 “former” convicted burglars, four out of five revealed their belief that active burglars are using social media to plan their next heist. It’s a frightening statistic.
What are burglars reading?
Social media certainly does offer bags of opportunity for the switched-on burglar. Not only do we post holiday plans, but we’ll add updates about meeting a friend in Liverpool, having a pint in town or taking your dog for a walk. All are adverts for an empty house.
And there’s more. Burglars not only know when you’re out of the house – they know what’s inside. Thanks to our willingness to brag about shopping purchases (especially on Facebook) we’re attracting them with a shopping list of shiny products.
‘Just grabbed a brand new Sony Vaio laptop’ or ‘my husband’s bought me a brand new diamond stuffed, silver encrusted, gold battered necklace’. Like turning up to Argos with their order number, burglars already know what we’ve bought and they’re in your empty house to collect it. They can even virtually case the joint for alarms using Google Maps.
The need to be social media smart
All this swapping of crowbars for computers is enough to make you consider “Facebook Suicide”, but do we really need to throw out our PC and dust down the typewriter? Surely we just need to exercise a little common sense when updating social media?
On Facebook it’s relatively straightforward. As long as you keep your updates limited to friends only – assuming none of your friends are career criminals – there is no way for strangers with swag bags to see what you’re up to. Of course, the fact that Facebook’s privacy dial is like a washing machine stuck on spin doesn’t help.
Far worse is the location check-in feature, as seen on Facebook and Four Square. Facebook says you can ‘easily share where you are, what you’re doing and the friends you’re with right from your mobile’. You may as well hang a neon sign saying ‘I’m out, the keys are under the mat and there’s milk in the fridge’.
So, are we sharing too much online? Probably. Looking back through my friends’ Facebook and Twitter feeds, I could easily help myself to a couple of iPhones, a laptop or two and even a Banksy. I’ll certainly be thinking a little more carefully about what I post. It’s probably wise to keep my grand holiday plans, general whereabouts and shopping successes secret.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy a state of the art burglar alarm and I’ll be broadcasting its existence on Twitter and Facebook.