A warning to homeowners that social media posts can be as much an invitation to burglars in the 21st century as leaving milk bottles on the doorstep once were a few decades ago.
Whilst home insurance providers used to warn homeowners heading off on their holidays to remember to cancel the milk and newspapers so crooks would not pick up clues about their absence from their property, it’s now social media that is dropping blatant hints.
The move into a virtual world has led to homeowners forgetting the key principles of protecting a home. We are urging social media users to think twice before posting anything that suggests they are away from their home and its valuables.
Thieves are increasingly monitoring social media to help select properties to target and this need not just be because people have given away the fact that they are on holiday.
Burglaries have also occurred when those posting status updates have highlighted they are out for the evening.
It only takes two minutes on average to break into a property and ten minutes to seize valuables and leave, so broadcasting where you are and what you are doing can be an expensive mistake.
Barry Pimlott, our Managing Director, says: “Avid social media users can’t wait to share pictures of themselves in the sun, visiting new places and sitting at the airport. In fact, if Facebook users with a decent-sized network head to their feed right now, I would expect they would find at least one message from a ‘friend’ that gives away the fact that they are not at home.”
“The issue is twofold. Firstly, nothing is truly private on social networks and secondly, although you may have made people ‘friends’, you may not have seen them since your school days, or even ever known them at all. When posting your whereabouts on your networks, you are placing enormous trust in people, which is sometimes betrayed.”
Top tips to beat the burglars
• Only post-holiday snaps once you’ve returned home
• Avoid posting real-time pictures of nights or days out
• Review privacy settings and lists of friends
• Don’t post pictures of highly valuable possessions
• Delete any trail thieves could follow in past posts, e.g. ‘we always go away on …’
• Take extra care on birthdays and anniversaries, when a thief might expect you to be out
• Don’t reveal regular habits (e.g attending a weekly gym class; working late certain nights of the week)
• Make sure doors and windows are locked and secured when you are away and that locks are robust
• Consider fitting an alarm. Thieves are deterred by these
• Invest in measures such as security lights, curtain pullers and even dog barking gadgets