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Four tactics burglars are using on social media to target their victims

By Joseph Hill writing for thesafeshop.co.uk on 11 Mar, 2015

According to recent research by alarm and doorbell company Friedland, four out of five burglars are now using social media to track their victims and select possible targets. With one in four people using social media worldwide, it can be daunting to think that strangers may be watching your profiles. But by looking at how they use it you can protect yourself from these new tactics.

1. Social Locations

Most smartphones are now fitted with built-in GPS trackers, which is great when using Google Maps to find your way around. But with ADT finding that over half of young people are now posting their location or movements on social media at least once a week, you could be an easy target for a burglar who’s social savvy.

Friedland also found that 80% of criminals return to a property a number of times before breaking in. Therefore if they managed to find you on social media, they could be watching and waiting for the right time to pounce when you’ve gone out for the night, on holiday or even out for the day.

2. Hidden Picture Data

Did you know that without even realising it, most digital photos taken on a smartphone are tagged with EXIF data? You could be unintentionally sharing the following data with everyone online:

  • Where the photo was taken
  • When the photo was taken
  • The model of camera or smartphone used to take it

Any burglar who knows how to find this information and comes across a photo online can quite easily grab your home address, making you a possible victim. Thankfully Facebook and Twitter strip the data and replace it with their own, but as many websites don’t, you must be careful of not only what, but where you upload your photos.

3. Revealing Posts

ADT found that nine out of ten young adults are sharing information that could put their home at risk, which goes to show how seemingly innocent posts can sometimes cause harm. In fact simply sharing excitement about a holiday could be all the incentive a criminal needs to consider a trip to your house.

Take for example Jodie Marsh, who was nearly burgled when she began sharing photos from her recent holiday. Thankfully Jodie was sharing the photos from home, not on the trip itself, so was able to alert the police and scare off the criminals.

4. Image Scans

Google offers a service which allows you to upload an image to its search engine, then see where else it’s been posted on the net. If you’ve posted a photo across multiple social networks, a simple search can bring up a list of your social profiles and give someone an in depth look into your life online.

After scanning images for your real name, a criminal is only a simple background check away from finding where you live. Surprisingly Google image scans aren’t the only way that google can be used as a tool for the bad, as the Friedland study revealed that 74% of burglars stated that Google Street View was playing a role in today’s home thefts.

Privacy settings are key to improving your security online and thankfully most social networking sites allow you to keep your social life away from prying eyes. For more tips on how to avoid becoming another statistic online, check out this post on how to keep safe on social media.