There have been many stories in the past of criminals (of one sort or another) using Google, Foursquare and Facebook to target people who many not be home or, in the case of Google Earth and Street View, which homes to target.
A recent survey of 50 convicted burglars by UK security firm Friedland Response and reported by the UK’s Sky News argues that Google and social media tools are being used extensively to target people.
Nearly 80 percent of the 50 ex-burglars surveyed strongly believed that Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare were being used by current criminals, and nearly 75 percent stated that they thought Google Street View was also involved in theft planning.
Just over 50 percent said that including your whereabouts in social media status updates was “a mistake” and helpful to burglars.
- Home burglaries yield £500 ($782) of stolen goods or valuables on average
- The average burglary related insurance claim is £1200 ($1,877)
- Nearly 80 percent of the burglars said a simple home alarm system would deter them from targeting the home
There are some caveats that must be mentioned:
- The survey sample was very small: 50 former burglars
- The ex-burglars stated their beliefs and perceptions of what’s going on now; they weren’t discussing how they committed their own crimes
The advice given in response to the findings is: be aware that others may be using your tweets and check-ins to decide whether to “burgle” your home. However there are a range of common-sense methods to deter burglaries, such as: don’t hide keys near doorways, don’t leave doors and windows unlocked or open and don’t put valuable items in places where they can be seen clearly from outside the home.