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Is your social media attracting burglars to your home?

By Bea Patel on in Home Security

Is your social media attracting burglars to your home?

We all look forward to our holiday and many of us love to post what we’re up to on social media. The check-in at the airport or once we reach our resort, pictures of the sunset or a post about our #beachholiday. In fact, 44 per cent of people post to keep friends and family up to date, and 21 per cent admit posting to brag to their online friends.

But what we see as innocent holiday updates could become our worst nightmare.

Why? Because we could be putting our homes at risk. According to ADT, 78 per cent of burglars use social media to target properties.

This month is Home Security Month. We wanted to discuss ways you can protect your social media statuses without alerting burglars to your empty home. Anthony Neary, MD of safe.co.uk gives his advice:

What social media techniques can burglars use to gain information about a potential target?

Burglars use social media to help them find out when a property will be empty. Tagging your location, such as at the airport, is advertising your empty home to anybody who has access to your profile.

Social media can also be used to learn about your work or social patterns. This helps burglars find out what the best time of day is to break in to your home. People tend to post about their latest gift or expensive purchase, usually around Christmas time. A burglar can sometimes easily identify a worthwhile burglary from the types of things we post on social media.

Which apps are easiest for burglars to find your details on?

Facebook and Twitter make it easy to find user details with very little effort; Facebook is particularly easy as many users forget to make details private. Instagram is also used to display holiday snaps which creates a virtual road map of potential targets.

What should you do to avoid being a target?

Using privacy settings is essential for protecting sensitive information. Each social media platform includes a section which lets you to choose who can see the information you post. It’s a good idea to keep sensitive information about yourself private or only visible to close friends and family.

Are there any other dangers around home security and tech?

Many security products act as a visual deterrent, such as CCTV cameras and alarm siren boxes. This is likely to put many burglars off, because they’d prefer an easier job on a house with low security.

However, this could also show that you have something worth protecting. This could entice the more determined and more professional burglars. There is also a worry that some smart security products could be hacked despite assurances from security manufacturers.

What happens when someone breaks into your home? (Timeline, hotpots, etc.)

Once inside, a burglar wants to be out again within a couple of minutes. They will make sure they have a clear exit through the back door before going upstairs to check the bedrooms and search for anything of value.

Typically, under the bed is an area where people are likely to hide valuable items. The kitchen is also a popular place for storing any important paperwork. A burglar is likely to balance a bottle or a brush against the front door which will alert them if you’ve returned. This gives them a couple of valuable seconds to leave through the back door.

What should you do if you’re out and find out your home has been broken into?

Phone the police as soon as possible. They will come to investigate the scene to check the coast is clear, see what damage has been caused and what valuables have been taken.

How can you prepare your social media profiles before going away?

Firstly, you should update your privacy settings. This can be done on most social media sites. Neary advises to “keep sensitive information about yourself private or only visible to close friends and family.”

You should also think about what you’re posting. Is it worth showing the latest gadget you’ve bought or the fact you’re not home for two weeks? You should wait until you’re home to share holiday snaps, and don’t tell strangers about big purchases.

Some apps also have GPS trackers. If your location on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook is switched on, you might reveal your address to thieves.

If you’re thinking of travelling away, check out Aviva’s holidaymaker’s home security checklist for useful advice to protect your home. Then all that’s left is for you to enjoy your holiday.