You may have heard the horror stories about homeowners who went away on vacation, only to find out once they returned that their home had been burglarized. Most often, homeowners whose homes are burglarized while on vacation told someone they were leaving home. And these days, that most commonly occurs via social media.
Social media is a great tool to keep in touch with friends and family. No longer do we have to wait for those precious family photos to be posted for all to see. But that's just what burglars count on. And the more details you provide to your friends list, the better. The act of over-sharing information is more acceptable now than ever, thanks to social media sites which allow us to be authors to the world without any limits on what we post.
Privacy is Your Friend
Checking your privacy settings on your social media account is the first step you can take to thwart a burglar. If your updates are reaching far more people than just your contacts, take action to tighten up your privacy settings.
Speaking of your friends, how many of them can tag you in your photos? This may be something to think about. Checking your tag settings under "How Tags Work" will allow you to control who can tag you in photos. If you have a number of close friends, you can always create a list just for them. Doing this will allow you to limit the amount of and what information you share. All you have to do when you want to post a photo is to choose which list you want to see it.
Post With Caution
The bottom line is that you control what is posted on your social media account. While it may be fun to post the pictures you've just taken of your family playing on the white sandy beach you're visiting, doing so is like posting a neon sign on your front door for burglars. While this may seem to be overcautious, statistics prove there is a definite connection between increased instances of burglaries and what is shared on a social media account.
People Are Using Social Media to Report Crime
If you'd rather not change the privacy settings of your social media accounts, you may be relieved to know that the viral nature of social media sites like Facebook means that information can spread like wildfire to millions of people with just a few clicks. This has made social media a great tool for reporting crime. Additionally, most people now own smart phones that include cameras, activities can be snapped or recorded on video, oftentimes without the perpetrator even being aware of what's happening.
Law enforcement agencies are also watching social media networks for reports of crime. There have been several stories about Facebook users posting their criminal exploits as they happen. Once information is shared by a social media user with their friends, those friends can submit it to law enforcement.
Law enforcement agencies have also created profiles and groups on social media using fake names to befriend would-be criminals in order to trip them up and make them easier to catch. Today, more than one in five law enforcement officials use social media for the purpose of gathering information on criminals.
Using a multi-pronged approach to deter criminals that combines personal control over your social media account can help keep your home secure. Leverage knowledge on how others are using social media for observational and reporting purposes can also help you to ensure maximum protection for your property and possessions when you're away from home.