Are you your biggest security risk?
The growth of social media means that we are all connected, and can check in with friends all over the world at the tap of a touch screen – but has this increase in connectivity left us vulnerable to crime?
Recent statistics have shown that almost 80% of convicted burglars admit to checking social media and google street view to plan their crimes – tracking the movements of homeowners and examining access to their property from the safety of their own homes before even approaching yours.
We are all guilty of it – checking in to events and locations to share our excitement, tagging our friends on a great night out, sharing our holiday pics on social media – aware that our friends will like and comment, engaging with our excitement – and never thinking of who else might just be watching.
How can you protect yourself from these modern burglars, and reduce the risks of being the next victim of crime?
Never give away your home address
Tempting though it might be to show your new home off by sharing photos, if your social media accounts aren’t locked down, it isn’t just your friends and family admiring your façade. Burglars could be browsing to identify weak spots in your security, whether you have an alarm or CCTV, and how many neighbours can overlook your property and potentially catch them in the act.
Avoid sharing your precise location, letting your home address remain a mystery to anyone you wouldn’t invite in for a cup of tea, or a quick google search gives anyone the chance to check your property out in detail.
Don’t announce your absence
If you’re going away, wait until you get home to share photos or details of the trip – otherwise, potential burglars know your home is empty and can take the opportunity to pop in.
Announcing your absence by checking in to an airport, a hotel or even hospital if you’re getting treatment, announces that there’s nobody home – and an empty house is an open invitation to criminals.
Don’t share photos of expensive goods
If you’re lucky enough to have expensive jewellery, flashy electronics or are the proud recipient of a teetering tower of Christmas gifts, try to avoid sharing lots of photos on social media.
Think back to October 2016 when Queen of social media, Kim Kardashian, was robbed at gunpoint in her Parisian Hotel. The incident was planned in minute detail by a team who followed her regular updates on Instagram – where she showed off her expensive jewellery, tracked her movements, showed images of her hotel and updated her travel plans, all giving the criminals the information they needed to get past her security and traumatically change the direction of her online presence.
Avoid the chances of similar incidents of targeted theft by keeping your private life more private, and not showing off too many of your fanciest goods.
Whilst the validation of thousands of ‘likes’ might make us feel good, it’s a sensible precaution to lock your profiles down a little. Making your social media accounts more private and regularly updating your security settings means that your posts will only be seen by the people you want to see them – and reduces the risk of stranger danger leading criminals into your life.
Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know
In extension of the point above, locking your privacy settings down only works if you’re careful about who you accept friend requests from.
Stick to adding people you know, and avoid letting strangers have open door access to the intimate details of your private life. That friendly friend-of-a-friend who adds you might look like a person you want to know, but it could just as easily be a criminal searching for information to target their next victim.
You are in charge of your own social media presence – and only you can manage the information you share – so don’t give burglars the chance to take advantage of you by advertising all your goods, and the times you aren’t there to protect them.