We’re all tempted to do it. The moment we leave for vacation or sit down at a fancy restaurant, we post about it online.
With our ever increasing need to post about the details of our lives, we are subjecting ourselves to be targeted by robbers. No longer are the days when robbers sit outside your house and wait for you to leave. All they have to do is open Facebook, see you’ve gone to a bar across town, and know exactly how much time they have to ransack your house.
A poll in the U.K. revealed that 78% of vandals admitted to using social media websites to track down home owner’s whereabouts. Even scarier, 74% of convicted burglars admitted to using Google Street View to get a better picture of a house and it’s lay out.
Here is a list of five things you should avoid posting to social media to avoid robberies:
- Never post when you’ll be out of town or away from your house for a long period of time. It may seem like “checking in” at a restaurant on Facebook is harmless. But a robber can look up how far away that restaurant is, and plan his timing to get in and out before you know what happened. Also, posting a picture to Instagram of a meal is somewhat okay, but tagging the restaurant you’re at is something to avoid. Even posting a photo of a meal at a restaurant will indicate you’re away from home. But tagging the restaurant will give the robber even more information on how much time they have. Lastly, if you don’t turn on your privacy settings, sometimes sending a Tweet or updating your status will attach your location to it. Make sure to turn this option off in your settings.
- Don’t post about expensive or luxury items you have or recently purchased. Whether you are describing your recent loot from the mall, or posting a picture of your new Prada purse, any post involving luxury or expensive items can make you vulnerable. Especially avoid describing where the item is in your house. If you post your new diamond necklace is kept in your closet, it will make it that much easier for a robber to find and steal.
- To state the obvious, never post your exact address. And if you want to be extra careful, try to avoid posting the specific town you live in. Seems a bit much? A perpetrator can look up your town online and see the average income of the area. If it’s a wealthier neighborhood, they are more likely to track your whereabouts and rob your house.
- Don’t upload any pictures that reveal what your house looks like on the outside or inside. If you show what your house looks like from the outside online, robbers are able to find it a lot easier. Posting pictures of your new living room Ikea furniture, or the pool in the backyard, gives robbers a blue print to follow when entering your house. These pictures will make it that much easier for robbers to navigate, and also know where you keep certain expensive items.
- Even if you don’t post about your vacation or time away from home, a friend might tag you in a post revealing your location. Make sure you let your friends know you do not want to be tagged in anything that will hint your whereabouts. Also, turn on the privacy setting on Facebook that makes it mandatory to get your permission before you are tagged in a photo.
So next time you’re tempted to share a picture of yourself laying on the beach in Bali, think twice. Robbers are as digitally savvy as the rest of us, and depend on your status updates to steal your possessions. Shy away from posting about the fabulous restaurants you go to, and just stick to selfies instead.