Holiday status updates encouraging burglaries

by Emily DUNBAR on April 21, 2011

People who announce their holiday plans on Twitter and Facebook are putting themselves at risk of being burgled, according to a new study. Researchers found that an address can be tracked down in just one minute after a status update, with web savvy thieves taking advantage.

Updates about waiting for flights at the airport, arriving at destinations or even just packing suitcases can be enough to tempt opportunists, according to the report. All that needs to be done is a cross reference of the family name with the person’s school in an online address database.

The research was carried out by Co-operative Insurance and Co-operative Travel, which say thieves are more likely to rob people that make such announcements online as they assume their houses will be empty for long periods. The group found that youngsters were the worst offenders, with 51 per cent announcing on social networking sites when they’re about to go away.

Due to the growth of world-wide wi-fi, many people are also continuing to update their Twitter and Facebook profiles while they’re away. With almost half of 10-15-year-olds now equipped with smartphones, updates on the move are getting more common.

Worryingly, a separate survey of 3,000 people from the UK found that 44 per cent of them have friends on social networking sites that they have never met. At least 37 per cent also have no privacy settings in place on their profiles, meaning anyone can access their information, including criminals.

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