Oct 1, 2010
Fans of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been warned by police after 2 men were convicted of burgling a house whose owners had advertised the fact they were away.
While users of social media like to post and broadcast every move, police said such action can have a highly detrimental effect as it leaves their homes at the mercy of criminals.
Wisbech magistrates’ court heard that Peter Trower, 22 and Joseph McLennan, 18, monitored Facebook accounts waiting for the “perfect opportunity” to rob a home in the town.
Trower, it transpired, knew the victims’ daughter and had been to the three-bedroom house twice before. When he fell out with the family, he hatched a plan for “revenge” and, being a friend of theirs on Facebook, had access to their status updates.
When the family posted they were going away, the pair ransacked the property and stole computers, jewellery, DVDs and a purse. They were caught red-handed after being spotted by a neighbour. Both admitted burglary and will be sentenced later.
Inspector Ian Tandy, said the case highlighted the dangers of putting too much personal information online.
He said: “I would urge the public to be cautious when using social media, ensuring you know who has access to your personal information and take full advantage of the privacy settings available.”
Police in the American state of New Hampshire said they had smashed a burglary ring which targeted users who imparted their location on their status or used a new Facebook application called Facebook Places, a mobile phone-based service giving away users’ locations, and therefore effectively advertising the fact they are not at home.
The gang broke into 50 homes, stealing around £60,000 worth of goods.
Gareth Kloet, head of home insurance from an insurance company, said: “What’s happened in the US could be the start of a worrying trend and if insurance providers see it as a potential risk, you can bet your home contents on the fact they’ll start pricing for it.
The insurance company More Than recently carried out a survey of 50 former burglars, which revealed that monitoring social networking sites is now big business for criminals.