For years, your friends have expressed concern over your habit of checking-in on foursquare wherever you go. “But I want to be the mayor of Starbucks!” you tell them. As they roll their eyes collectively, you continue, “I just really want that $1 off coupon that I get as the mayor!”
With the widespread integration of location-based services in social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and foursquare, burglars these days are wondering why they ever had to work so hard just to commit a simple house burglary.
“Hmmmmm….Stacey just posted some photos of herself in Hawaii,” the curious burglar noted. “Let’s see here… ‘Just got back from a fun day in the beach! I’m so glad I’m here in sunny Hawaii for the next two weeks, while my depressing house is unoccupied, yearning for my presence.’ Huh, Stacey is in Hawaii. Who would’ve thought!”
Back in 2009, Israel Hyman’s house was robbed, and he suspects that his vacation getaway tweets was at fault. With 2,000 followers at his disposal, tweets like “preparing to head out of town” and oh dear, at least “another 10 hours of driving ahead” can help any intrepid thief make a connection.
A recent study by the British home security firm Friedland confirms every worried social media user’s worst nightmare: 4 out of 5 interviewed ex-burglars said that they believed social media platforms are being used by current thieves to carry out their next heists. Not only that, 74% believes that Google Street view is being used during the initial planning stages before any home theft.
File that under the “I can’t believe that’s true!” sarcasm category.
Mind you, with only 50 ex-burglars participating in the research survey, this isn’t the most accurate representation of how thieves operate. Of course, it’s not too difficult to fathom how location-based information that is so freely shared these days can be easily used by burglars to find their next victim. Google doesn’t make things any easier, Street-view more specifically. A simple search on Maps later and voila! I now know that your house is yellow, you never cut your grass, and that tree makes for an easy place to hide from the gaze of a passerby.
Maybe it’s time to invest in a doberman.