You might want to think twice before announcing over Facebook that you’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. As a matter of fact, you may want to refrain from announcing that you’re leaving the house at all. Unfortunately, more than 18 families from New Hampshire were victim to the worst that could happen when you do the opposite.
The New York Times called the culprits “tech-savvy burglars”, but it doesn’t take the any sort of “savviness” to read a Facebook post that announces an empty house for the next two weeks. I think, more importantly, Facebook users need to be aware of what they post on their walls and profiles, especially when it has even the slightest chance of threatening the well-being of your home or family.
According to New Hampshire’s Channel 9 News, police officers recovered $100,000 to $200,000 worth of stolen property as a result of the investigation. Apparently, the three burglars were using a website called Please Rob Me that posts (or at least they used to) status updates from people who were letting the world know they were away from home. Please Rob Me has since shut down, claiming that their “intention is not, and never has been, to have people burgled”. They also let new visitors to their site know that they’re “not showing the Twitter messages anymore, as they no longer add anything. If you don’t want your information to show up everywhere, don’t over-share.”
Despite the ironic messaging on Please Rob Me, I agree with their “advice”. The best way to prevent this from ever happening to you is simply to: be careful what you post on ANY social network, especially Facebook.
Parents, add this topic to the discussions you have with your children regarding Internet safety smarts. I recently pointed out to my teen daughter and a few of my friends that if they absolutely have to post their vacation plans on Facebook, then they should do it after they get back. I live by that rule, but after one recent weekend where my daughter posted “going to Tahoe”, we found a concerning trail that made us believe that someone tried to break in. Thank goodness for the house alarm system, and a few very big and protective dogs. =)