Posted May 31st, 2023 by SimpliSafe
We love a good overshare on social media. Whether you’re proud of a photo you took, or love to keep up with what your friends are doing, social media is the perfect place to do all of those things and more.
Though like any other digital platform, sharing just that bit too much can come with a whole host of risks. We aren’t talking about cybersecurity here, in fact, we’re talking home security and how burglars could use social media profiles to track your home down and gain unauthorised access.
What social posts do burglars look for to steal from you? We’ll dive into how burglars use social media to commit crimes, the type of posts they look out for, and tips on how to keep you and your home safe from real-life burglars on social media.
There are a number of reasons why a burglar may take an interest in someone and stalk their social profiles. Perhaps they identify you as someone who lives close by or someone of influence who they’ve taken an interest in. No matter the motive, the burglar could crawl through all of your social media profiles to spot things like your whereabouts, personal information, check-ins and all of the above for your friends and family too. Once they build a profile of how you typically go about your business, they can start to determine where you’ll be (or not be).
It's through this method that they can figure out when you’re not home to commit a burglary, or worse, take things further. If the latter is ever the case, alert the local authorities in the first instance, and refer to stalking or harassment offences that can be found in sections 2, 2A, 4 and 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PHA 1997) and section 42A (1) Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 for more information.
You can read more about the difference between a robbery and a burglary in our blog post, should you ever need to report anything to the police.
There are lots of techniques burglars use to target people. In the case of social media posts, a burglar can look out for key information about the person, such as where they go, their shopping habits, who they hang out with and so on. Information like this can be easily obtained from social media in their personal profile information (or ‘bio’) and indicate where the person works too. If a burglar is that meticulous, they can use directories such as the 192 electoral roll to look up names for an address, as well as who else they might live with.
When they have a good idea of the person’s habits and where they live, they can work out when they’ll be out of the house, when they may be going on holiday (especially if they post about it) and other posts that may indicate they’re not at home. This gives burglars the time to strike.
Now that we know how burglars use social media, what kind of social media posts and activity put you at risk?
Summer holiday scams are already a worry in itself, so don’t let something as (seemingly) small as tagging your location put you at risk
But isn’t it cool you’re on a beautiful sandy beach in Spain? Your followers may think so, and so will the burglar stalking your profile. Assuming they’ve built a profile on who you are and where you live, they’ll be quick to assume you’re out of the house so they can slip in and take your possessions.
Therefore, be careful when you use the geotagging function on social media. Even if it’s to tag you’re at a local restaurant, it’ll still tell your burglar you’re away from home.
Humble or otherwise, bragging about where you are or what you own can put your safety at risk. We get it, showing you’re in an exciting location can make your peers jealous, or perhaps you got your hands on the latest tech and you want to show your followers you’re ahead of the curve.
But in reality, what this can do is show burglars the types of items you invest in. Celebrities and influencers aren’t exempt from this either. Figures like Kim Kardashian and Frank Lampard, who are known to have lavish lifestyles, had their break-ins publicised in the media. Another example is Kieren Hamilton, a well-known cryptocurrency trader from Manchester who posted about their material possessions often, which lead to a break-in and assault in their home.
At the time of writing, the #movinghome TikTok tag has 34.7 million views, so this type of post is clearly very popular. Let’s face it, moving home or buying your first home is an exciting time for everyone involved - but especially for burglars.
So if you’re thinking about posting a photo of your new set of keys (as well as the property itself), you may want to think twice, as a burglar may attempt to trace it and take it to a locksmith to get a key cut. The debate around whether this works has often leaned towards “yes”, but concrete evidence is lacking. Regardless, it’s just not worth the risk.
If you are moving, then you’ll need to protect your home while it’s for sale too. Read our guide about how to protect your home during the moving process.
We love a good selfie, but have you got something in the background that’s precious to you? From consoles to jewellery, you may want to think twice about posting these in the background of your photos. Why? Because it yet again builds a profile for the burglar to know where things are kept in your home, as well as what’s in your home that’s worth stealing.
If you want to limit your chances of theft or a burglary attempt in your home, here are some simple yet highly effective ways to protect yourself and your home through social media. It’s worth noting that alongside these tips, you can further increase your home security by introducing indoor cameras and outdoor cameras, with access on your smartphone, should you ever need to check in whilst you’re away.
If you have no real reason to keep your profile public, then consider setting it to private. This is especially true if you only use social media to stay in touch with trusted friends and family. This way, only the people you know personally can view what you post.
If you don’t want to keep your social profiles private, then consider not posting your location and/or turning off your location tracking entirely. It’s tempting to tag yourself at a cool location with friends, but this will yet again alert whoever’s stalking your profile that you aren’t home.
Apps like Snapchat have location sharing, enabled so you can track where your friends are, and your friends can track your location too. To keep your location private, consider turning these settings off so you don’t endanger yourself or your home.3. Upload posts in the future
Instead of posting where you are in the current moment on say, a holiday, consider posting it when you’re back home instead. This way, you can share the location in which you were in, but you’ll be home - which may deter the burglar from attempting to break in. Plus, if you install a security system, this will act as a deterrent in itself.
If you love taking a selfie, do so on a plain background, or one where it doesn’t reveal where you are or what possessions you own. The same goes for capturing objects you like. Take the photo close up so that it doesn’t reveal the rest of your home, or hide your valuables out of frame while taking the shot.
Even if you have a mutual friend or follower with the person that’s requested a connection, if you don’t know them, don’t accept it. This may seem like a simple step to take, but your posts could give a stranger enough to build a profile on you and attempt something as serious as a burglary.
Want to deter burglars and have extra home security? Contact SimpliSafe to find out how we can help secure your home from theft. From a loud bell box to alert your neighbours to video doorbells to see who’s around your property, SimpliSafe has a solution that can help you feel safer in your home.