Is Being Too Social a Crime?
You and your husband are on that trip of a lifetime, a vacation that you want all your friends and family to share with you.
So, you post a few photos on Facebook, figuring what’s the big deal with showing everyone you are in Hawaii at the moment, right?
Not too long after posting those photos, you get a call from the police back in Chicago, your home has been broken into. Was it a coincidence that you went on social media to say you were away from home, meantime, your residence was robbed?
As too many homeowners and renters have discovered in recent years, being too social on social networks can get you in trouble, trouble that leads to potential heartache.
According to a 2011 study from Credit Sesame, 78 percent of ex-burglars think there is a very good chance that current thieves turn to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to locate empty homes to target for a robbery.
The study also noted:
* 15 percent of Americans turn to social media to tell the world that they are out of their residences;
* Nearly 80 percent of burglars admit to the fact that an inexpensive alarm system would be enough to turn them away from breaking into a home;
* 74 percent of criminals turn to Google Street View to review a residence prior to robbing it;
* The average burglar requires a mere 10 minutes to rob a home.
With those numbers in mind, just how social should you be when you’re away from home, be it a vacation or just out for a night at the movies?
Among the things to consider:
1. Safety matters – Especially in the case of women, do not broadcast to the world on Facebook, Foursquare, and other such networks that you are home alone or on your way home from a specific location. Not only are potential thieves oftentimes monitoring social media chatter, but criminals with even worse intentions do too. If you are out by yourself for a period of time, keep that information to yourself and/or at least don’t spread it all over social media. You can also bend the truth a bit by claiming that you just got home and your dog missed you, that is when you do not even own a dog in the first place. If you take a vacation with your girlfriends, don’t show pictures of you at a resort while your apartment sits by unoccupied;
2. Security matters – If you live alone and/or take vacations, consider installing a home security system in your residence. As noted earlier, when close to 80 percent of burglars say even a cheap home alarm system would deter them from breaking in, there is merit to that statement. Not only can a security system protect you and your valuables, but it can also be a good safety feature for your entire neighborhood. In the event you can’t afford such a system, posting a credible sign on your property that the place is protected never hurts. The same holds true by stating that there is a dog on the premises;
3. Teamwork matters – It is important to only add actual friends on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. While many social media users befriend/follow lots of people they do not know, make sure that any “personal” updates such as vacations or nights out on the town are left only with those you know and trust. You can also set your Facebook and Twitter pages so that individuals must get your permission to befriend or follow you. You can also work with authorities, especially given the fact that more police departments are using social media to track criminals. If you see any strange occurrences in your neighborhood, let police know, providing them with pictures of any individuals or vehicles that don’t seem to fit in your area.
With all the benefits that social media has to offer, it just takes one wrong comment or photo to set yourself up for a home invasion, something that could change your life forever.
Photo credit: nbc33tv.com
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