Ah, the four S’s of vacation season: sun, sand, surf and… safety? The last one is probably not high on your to-do list as you wrestle with how many pairs of shoes is too many to bring on a four day getaway or researching which must-see hot spots are actually tourist traps, but security should be a priority if you truly want to have a stress-free holiday.
Not only do you need to be aware of safety concerns in your chosen destination, but you also need to think about the protection of the possessions you are leaving behind. But, beyond remembering to lock your doors and stop your mail, what more can you do to ensure the safety of your home while you are away? A major step in thwarting vacation home invasion that many people don’t consider, is limiting what you post on social media.
Hold That Post
If your instinct is to share those beautiful vacation pics on Facebook or Instagram or to tweet about your upcoming time off to tweak your friends’ jealousy, you are not alone. In a survey by Nationwide Insurance 41 percent of homeowners aged 18-34 said they post about their vacations on social media.
Unfortunately, a study by Time magazine showed that 78 percent of burglars admit to using these same social media posts to target their next victims. You may remember the story that went viral in 2012 about the teenage girl in Sydney who was helping her grandmother count cash and posted a picture of the money on Facebook. Later the same day, the home of the girl’s mother was invaded by two armed men looking for the cash. This story is far from an anomaly. In March of 2014, a woman from Fontana, California named Stacey Grant posted the seemingly innocuous “Just made it to Las Vegas with my family” on her Facebook page, even tagging the resort where she was staying. Within hours, a Facebook friend pulled up in a U-Haul and burglarized Stacey’s home. On a larger scale, a ring of thieves in the U.S. were accused of robbing over 50 homes in Nashua, New Hampshire in August 2010 by using Facebook to identify when victims would be away from home.
Proactive Steps to Take
With burglars using more sophisticated means to target victims, aside from quitting social media, what can you do to make sure you are not accidently leading a thief to your home? In addition to keeping yourself educated on the latest in cyber security, the International Business Times recommends taking several simple steps to securing vacation information.
- Keep your vacation plans off social media. No matter how tempting, and no matter how private you believe your accounts to be, do not post about your upcoming trip.
- Wait until you are home to post vacation photos. Pictures of you lounging on the beach or climbing a far-away peak are a big tip-off that you are not at home. Even if you don’t explicitly state where the photo is taken, some devices automatically include GPS data which can be used to reveal your location.
- Don’t share your check-ins. Checking in to airport lounges or even out of town restaurants are an easy way to tell you are not home, even if you do not explicitly post about it.
- Keep your home address off the Internet. Periodically check the information you’ve shared or that is available about you with a Google search to see if a thief could deduce where you live.