How to Prevent Would-be Burglars from
Targeting You on Social Media
Most home burglaries tend to be planned ahead of time, with the victim’s home having been targeted and cased in advance. Burglars will cruise through a neighborhood looking for targets, scouting for evidence like piled up newspapers and mail, unkempt lawn, absence of cars, etc., that suggest a house is (or will be) empty. They’ll also target their victims remotely through social media channels, looking for clues that suggest a home will be unoccupied, such as a death in the family (knowing that the family members of the deceased will be away at the funeral) a business trip, or a vacation.
One of the main benefits of using social media is to document notable life events and keep in touch with friends and family while traveling, and you don’t have to forego that just to keep burglars from using it to target your home, and with that in mind, here are some quick tips you can employ to reduce the chances that a burglar will target your home using social media.
“Keep the Location Undisclosed”
Thieves are good at using advanced search methods to comb through public posts that tag locations that suggest someone is out of the home (i.e. airport lounges, hotels, resorts) to pick easy targets.
Remove your home from their list by ensuring that any picture, status update or tweet which in any way divulges your location is not public and only accessible to audiences chosen by you, such as friends and family. Take the time and familiarize yourself with the any and all of your social media accounts’ privacy features…and use them.
Another way to maintain privacy around your location is to review and change the settings of any social networks or travel apps that use your phone’s GPS automatically, especially itinerary management, mapping and photography apps.
Even if you disable location settings and keep your posts private, you still need to be careful. For example, if you mention a particular restaurant or hotel in a tweet, someone with bad intentions can then easily use search engines to determine both your current location and your home address.
“Be Tight Lipped so You Don’t Sink the Ship”
This is basically an extension of the previous tip. “Loose lips sink ships” is an idiom they used to emphasize the risk of “unguarded talk” during WW2 and it applies here as well. The fact is, when it comes to social media, you may be up-to-speed on all matters privacy and security-related; however, all it takes is one errant post from one family member to tip-off the wrong people. To protect your home and property, make sure everyone in the family who uses social media is aware of the risks and understands the parameters of what and how they can share while on vacation.
If you have minor children, you’re probably already checking your child’s privacy settings on each social network periodically (if not, then you should be!). Since social media networks are well-known for constantly updating and changing the privacy and security policies, make sure to do a thorough check before the trip, and be sure to include any family members who may not be coming on the trip.
Of course, you can also unplug from social media for the duration of the trip altogether and share all your pics and videos on social media after you return. There is no shortage of experts who advise that in order to truly get the full benefits of a vacation, you need to disconnect from it all, including (and especially) from social media. If you want to keep friends and family updated on your trip? Send a good old-fashioned postcard.