Sharing your holiday details on Facebook? Tweeting shots from your winter in Aspen? You may want to stop and think about it first – you might be inviting potential trouble into your home. While it’s cool to share photos of your Alaskan cruise, announcing your vacation on social media sites can be an unwilling source of information to web-savvy burglars.
According to the 2011 “MetLife Auto & Home® American Safety Pulse: Danger at the Door”, 15 percent of the total population reports using social networking sites to post updates when leaving their homes, and more than double that amount—35 percent—of younger Americans (aged 18-34) “check in” to locations and tweet about their whereabouts when away. While you may want to share special moments with friends and family, this can give burglars clues about the best time when to go to work.
In the past, burglars scanned newspapers’ obituaries to target grieving families – now their tools include Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. The popularity of social networking sites are providing burglars with unprecedented access to detailed information about homeowners. Now, would-be thieves can see:
- What you own
- Where you live
- Where you are
- How long you’re likely to be away from home
Unlike burglaries of opportunity which last minutes, burglars who know that people will be away for an extended period are free to spend longer time and steal more expensive items.
What you can do on social networking sites to protect yourself from becoming a crime statistic:
- Don’t automatically share location information on social media services
- Don’t share your address
- Take a break from social media when on vacation – don’t announce how you’re looking forward to that two-week Fiji cruise during Christmas
- Share info with friends only—not “friends of friends”
- Don’t post messages or pictures from vacation until after you return home (many camera phones include GPS location data that can be used to track your location)
Take precautions now – evaluate your social media habits to ensure you don’t become another crime statistic.