Social media has revolutionized the ways we communicate in the 21st century, but some of those LOLs and OMGs may be putting your home at risk. According to one survey, a staggering 78% of burglars use social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook to choose their victims. The report was issued by the home security experts at Friedland, and has shed some interesting and unsettling light on how criminals are using high-tech means to scope out potential victims.
Real Burglars Weigh In
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s important to note that the survey utilized a small sample size and was in no way scientific. It does, however, offer some major perspective on how social media is opening sinister new doors for thieves. The survey looked at 50 burglars in the UK, all of whom had been recently incarcerated for burglary. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed claimed to use social networks as a means of locating potential targets.
Are You Inviting Criminals?
The burglars offered some fascinating insight into the mistakes made by everyday people who fail to realize the potential impact of their own tweets and status updates. “We’re living in the age of the digital criminal and people are taking advantage of social media to access information about would-be victims,” said Richard Taylor, one of the convicted burglars interviewed in the survey. “We’ll tell them even when we’re going away on holidays. We will let them know that we’re not in. We’re inviting them round to our house.”
Less is More
The data doesn’t end there, however. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said that Google Street View played a role in theft, and 54 percent noted the foolishness of placing one’s whereabouts on social media. In other words, when it comes to social media, less is more, and the best approach is to remain mum on your location at all times. You never know who’s watching, and in today’s digital world, criminals don’t need a van to case homes.
If you Check In, Watch out
At Home Security Store, we have often proclaimed that you should never announce your vacation plans on social media. That should go without saying, because there is nothing criminals love more than to learn that a home will be completely vacant for days at a time. But if there’s anything else we can take away from this survey, it’s that all location data can be used against you. So next time you have a family day at Disneyland or the beach, wait until the festivities have ended before you start publishing all of the exciting photos. It takes only about 2 minutes to break into a home, and approximately 10 minutes to complete a robbery, so even your seemingly harmless trip to Jamba Juice may be used against you if publicized.
A Surprising Revelation
Finally, there is one other intriguing detail that we should all take away from the UK survey. Almost 80 percent of the burglar participants said that an alarm system would have prevented them from breaking in to their target homes. Think about that for a moment. Even when the burglar knows that the homeowners are away, he’ll almost always think twice before attempting to enter an armed home. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a quality home security system, and this survey only reinforces that point.
Just Be Sensible
So just to recap, try not to use your social media profiles as real-time travelogues. While you’re living it up in Daytona Beach, the bad guys might be living it up in your living room. And nothing will ruin a vacation quite like coming home to find that your big screen TV has taken a trip of its own (good luck finding that on Twitter).