Social media is just the tweet for burglars

18 Feb 2014

There is new evidence of Irish homes falling victim to burglary attacks when home owners post Facebook status updates or tweets advertising the fact their home is empty.

When it comes to holidays, few Irish social network users are aware they are advertising their home is vacant to potential burglars when they seek joy in the sun or on the ski slopes.

In an indication of rising crime levels, 20.9pc of respondents to a survey carried out by Campion Insurance have experienced a burglary of their home.

The figures come from a survey of more than 600 respondents with home or car insurance policies and was conducted online by Campion Insurance from 4-11 February.

Many social media users admit to telling their network of their holiday plans and post holiday snaps, unaware thieves may either be lurking on their friends’ lists or alerted each time a friend likes or re-tweets their posts or photos. 

Some 63pc of Irish homeowners are on Facebook and Twitter, and almost 73pc of these believe they know how to secure their posts. 

However, just before they go away, 15.2pc inform their social networks of their upcoming departure. While away, aware that their home is empty, 16.1pc of homeowners tweet or post status updates on Facebook. This may just be for starters, as this does not take into account teens or other family members who are communicating with their buddies.

Some 18.5pc of homeowners post pictures to their social networks while out of the country, which friends will no doubt like or comment on, informing a wider community of strangers of the empty home.

In cases where burglaries have occurred during holidays, currently 2.4pc can pinpoint a status update or tweet that alerted thieves.

When asked if they trust everyone in their social network, some 71.4pc said they do not.

Let’s not forget the road worriers

And it’s not only holidays that give insurers a cause for concern.

Some 6.3pc of drivers admit checking Facebook and Twitter while driving vehicles, and 3.3pc do so while the vehicle is moving.

Close to 20pc of drivers check their social media feeds while stationary in traffic.

Some 30.5pc of drivers send SMS messages and answer calls while driving.

“Social networking has become a part of everyday life,” said Jim Campion, CEO of Campion Insurance. “Unfortunately there are some individuals who use it as a means of gathering information to commit crime. Users of social networking sites need to be aware of this and use caution when telling people where they are, as you could be informing criminals that the house is empty and an easy target.

“Distracted driving is a serious and deadly epidemic,” Campion added. 

“There is no way to text, answer calls or check social media feeds and drive safely. Powering down your mobile phone when you’re behind the wheel can save lives – maybe even your own.”

Burglar image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years